As a predental, there are so many resources and organizations to help aid in your success and pathway to leadership and dental school, especially ASDA. As an ASDA member, students have access to tons of benefits and opportunities that allow them to flourish, such as leadership roles at the local, district and national levels.
During my journey thus far, I’ve gotten to participate in some incredible opportunities in District 5 and nationally that have taught me so much. However, serving as national ASDA’s predental consultant (2020-2021), this year has been one of my most fulfilling and exciting leadership experiences as a predental.
This year, some of the most common questions I have come across from curious predentals relate to ASDA and getting involved, so here are my tips and advice, based on my experiences throughout the years as an ASDA predental member and leader.
1. Networking and mentorship
Networking is all about making quality connections with people who can help you reach your goals. As an ASDA member, predentals have access to a member directory and various events that can help them connect with other ASDA members and potential mentors. Networking with other predentals and dental students has not only helped me in my growth as a leader but also in my journey to dental school. I’ve gained better insight into the organization and getting involved, learned more about the schools they attend that I’m interested in, and gained friends and mentors who can help guide me in the right direction. Whether it is a current ASDA leader, a soon-to-be D1/upperclassman, or a student you follow on Instagram whom you look up to, never be afraid to reach out! Chances are, they once had the same questions and are almost always willing to share some advice.
2. District and national conferences
Some of the best annual events for predentals looking to get more involved are ASDA’s National Leadership Conference and district conferences. At these events, students gather with hundreds of their peers to experience educational sessions that offer creative and innovative perspectives from speakers of all backgrounds.
As someone who has attended NLC three times and various district conferences over the years, one of my tips is to go in with an open mind and a plan. Don’t be afraid to reach out to dental students or chapter leaders you know will be attending. NLC and district events are great places to meet up during or after sessions to network and engage with your peers. If there are specific schools you are interested in or leadership roles you’d like to learn more about, attend the leader meet-and-greets and roundtable discussions. NLC and district conferences are wonderful events to experience organized dentistry, even as a predental.
3. Predental events
Some ASDA chapters host predental days, summer events and workshops that are tailored to predentals. These types of events allow students to learn more about the school, hear from current dental students, tour the facilities, and work on fun and important tasks such as manual dexterity and mock interviews.
Tip: Follow ASDA chapters on social media and reach out to district trustees or predental chapter chairs to learn about when these opportunities will become available.
4. Leadership opportunities
The first step to obtaining leadership experience is checking out your school’s predental clubs or ASDA predental chapters. This is a great way to learn more about dentistry, give back to the community and aid in your growth as a leader. Various ASDA districts may also have predental committees/cabinets that offer leadership opportunities that let you learn more about ASDA and the role a district plays within the organization. District leadership can allow you to work with dental students on various district-wide predental initiatives such as social media engagement, virtual events, networking, etc., which helps strengthen the skills you need as a national leader.
National predental roles (serving as the predental consultant or on the predental advisory committee) help expand predental membership and engagement throughout the nation, while ensuring all efforts align with ASDA’s mission and strategic plan.
Tip: I’ve served on both the predental advisory committee and as the predental consultant; my best advice is to seek information from those who served in these roles before you. Ask specific questions, run ideas/potential initiatives by them, and gain a better understanding about how you will lead a team and work with other national leaders. (Also, check out leadership role descriptions for more info.)
One of the biggest takeaways from ASDA has been my growth in self-confidence. When I look back at the shy person I was at my first ASDA event, I can barely recognize that girl. ASDA has allowed me to believe in my strengths and abilities and surround myself with people working toward the same goal.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for help when you need it. The great thing about ASDA is that you have access to a network of people and opportunities that will help you grow in many different aspects of life — you just have to be open and willing to take a chance! While it can be scary to put yourself out there at times, the more you just do it, the easier it becomes, and eventually you’ll be a pro at engaging and networking.
6. Membership benefits
Within your ASDA predental membership, you will have access to various resources to help you at every stage in your journey, so take advantage of everything! Whether it’s the ASDA’s Guide to Getting into Dental School, the predental section of the website or member discounts, these resources will keep you informed, on track and one step ahead. My best advice is to explore the website, ASDA Blog, the Polished Predental and other helpful resources provided to members.
I hope after reading some of these tips and advice, you will feel motivated and inspired to take on new opportunities with ASDA. Fly to new heights and take your ASDA involvement to another level by joining ASDA today!
~Sonali Lallu, University of Central Florida ’19, ASDA Predental Consultant