Transitioning from chapter level leadership to national ASDA has been as amazing as it has been challenging. I was recently elected District 10 Trustee, and even though I worked to learn the position as much as I could last year, it has still been a wild ride with so much more for me to absorb. From flying out to our first board meeting, site tours for the district meeting, emails, conference calls and more emails, I have already learned a lot. The greatest difference I have found in national leadership is the way and the frequency in which you interact with others.
As a national leader, you represent ASDA at all times. Whether at your own school or at large, national leaders are the spokespeople for our association. You must be well-versed in ASDA’s stance on everything. You aren’t just speaking for yourself anymore; you’re speaking for 22,000 members, so it is imperative that you are promoting the right ideals and information. I’ve spent many hours reading up on our bylaws and the literature that supports our causes. National leaders are expert resources to all ASDA members and must be prepared for any question that comes their way.
In addition to representing ASDA accurately, it is equally essential to represent ASDA in your personal conduct. As Nancy Honeycutt, ASDA’s executive director, says, “Always wear your ASDA hat.” You will interact with leaders of the ADA, dental specialty associations, and even the United States government. It is exceedingly important to speak and act thoughtfully in these conversations because you represent dental students as a whole. Even at our own schools, it is important to remember your “ASDA hat.” You play an important role in your chapter and district. Your actions and words have the power to inspire and motivate others to effect positive change at your school and in the dental profession, so always maintain a positive and helpful attitude.
At the national level, it is integral to make every interaction count professionally and personally. The students you work with are often hundreds or even thousands of miles away, so it is vital to communicate effectively and efficiently in each email and conference call. I’ve already learned this the hard way a few times. Say what you mean and say it clearly the first time. At the chapter level, we see each other every day and can have multiple conversations to clarify things easily. This is not the case at the national level where opportunities for real-time conversations can be minimal.
Becoming a national leader is still a work in progress for me, but I am excited to continue learning and growing into this new position. For now, I will continue to be clear and kind and represent all dental students to the best of my abilities.
What have you learned in your ASDA leadership postition? Tell us in the comments below!
~ Danielle Marciniak, Roseman ’18