Predental attendees at ASDA’s National Leadership Conference.
I believe that every predental student should be an ASDA member because of the many unique benefits that comes with membership. However, what I found to be the one of the most fulfilling experiences of my undergraduate career was the opportunity to serve as an ASDA leader at the national, district and local levels as a predental member. I’m here today to share with you some the benefits of taking advantage of these opportunities.
How can I become an ASDA leader as a predental student?
Recently, ASDA has increased its focus on predental recruitment and engagement. Notably, the organization has aimed to “double predental membership to 4,000 by 2017,” as one of the four goals in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan. The first significant step towards this goal was the establishment of the national Predental Advisory Committee (PAC) in 2013. The PAC develops, pilots and implements various predental initiatives to increase member engagement and encourage new members to join ASDA. The PAC comprises predental members, an ASDA staff liaison and the national predental consultant. The predental consultant serves as the chair of the National Predental Advisory Committee and as a non-voting consultant to ASDA’s Council on Membership. The predental consultant also receives funding to attend ASDA’s National Leadership Conference in Chicago in November.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as the 2014-2015 predental consultant as an undergraduate sophomore. My experience working directly with ASDA members helped me gain valuable, genuine connections with other predental and dental students. Additionally, I met many mentors through my leadership experience, all of whom offered me advice and support throughout the dental school application process. I have no doubt that they will continue to provide me with guidance as I continue my path in dentistry.
Applications for the PAC typically open in December and are due in January. Members of the committee are appointed following a review of applications by a selection committee. Terms begin with Annual Session of the same year and end with Annual Session of the next year. I highly encourage anyone interested to take advantage of this opportunity to serve your predental peers from across the nation.
Remember that there are many ways to contribute to ASDA based on your personal skills and ideas that you have to offer. While I highly encourage you pursue these structured opportunities, innovating ideas to contribute in a meaningful and effective way is always welcome.
After completing my term as predental consultant, I realized that I enjoyed my experience so much that I wanted to continue contributing to ASDA’s mission. I took the initiative to reach out to Lydia Lancaster, the 2015-2016 District 6 Trustee, and proposed establishing a district Predental Advisory Committee to help support the District 6 predental chair, Zehra Zaid. Both were extremely receptive to the idea and together, we formally established the first ASDA district-level PAC in 2015. I served as PAC chair and went on to established the District 1 Predental Advisory Committee and become 2016-2017 District 1 predental co-chair with my colleague, Tara Prasad. My experience is just another example of how you can take initiative to contribute in a unique way. If you have an idea that you want to pursue, or if you simply want to address a problem that you and your peers face as predental students, I highly encourage you to reach out to your ASDA leaders at the local, district, and national level to rally the necessary support to bring your ideas to life.
If you want to become a dentist and haven’t joined ASDA yet – join now! I found my ASDA membership to be one of the best investments I’ve made in my professional and personal development. Maximizing your ASDA membership by serving as a predental leader will not only enable you to grow both personally and professionally, but also help you to learn and engage with current issues shaping dentistry. Take your involvement to the next level and work towards making yourself the best predental, dental student and dentist you can be.
~ David Danesh, Harvard ’20, District 1 Predental Chair