What more could you ask for? Hundreds of dental professionals on the Hill. Students engaging with experienced dentists and lobbyists. Cherry blossoms in bloom. This was the scene during the 2018 ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day, held April 8–10, where more than 1,000 dentists and students gathered from across the country to advocate on behalf of our profession.
In February of this year, your fellow students voted on an important policy update at ASDA’s House of Delegates. The resolution updated ASDA’s Policy E-4, Sensitivity to Diversity. Amid the flurry of a constantly changing immigration policy from President Trump, delegates wanted to take an official stance. ASDA delegates voted to include, “ASDA encourages the appropriate dental school admissions agencies to give equal admissions consideration to undocumented students with intent to seek legal permanent status.” This means that ASDA supports our diverse students and applicants without considering immigration status. Understanding the policy’s meaning and its relationship to the Trump Administration policy allows students to advocate.
Lobby Day. Hundreds of dental students gathered in Washington, D.C. to meet with senators and representatives from their states. The goal: to lobby for dentists, patients and dental students on behalf of the profession. If you have attended Lobby Day, you know the thrill of scampering around the nation’s capitol.
For most students, this is not the case. Dental school is tough and time-consuming, which makes travel across the country difficult. But all is not lost when it comes to advocacy. Being in the nation’s capitol delivering your message is incredible, but not always feasible. One of the best places to meet with a member of Congress is in their respective district.
I vividly remember the November morning in 1996. I accompanied my mom to her polling place in Kennesaw, Georgia. Even as a five-year-old, something about the entire situation felt special, but at that time I couldn’t really figure out what it was. I have been inquisitive since birth, so naturally I asked my mom why we were waiting in line. My mom explained that it was our responsibility to voice our opinion in the political process, and the way we did so was by voting. She stressed that everyone received one vote, and every vote mattered. From that morning on, I looked forward to voicing my opinions at the ballot box.