What are you thankful for?

Many of us are studying for finals and looking forward to the holidays as this year starts to wind down. Over the past 11 months, we have grown astronomically, pushed ourselves to overcome obstacles, stretched our minds and (hopefully) taken a step back when we needed to remind ourselves what the bigger picture may be. While it’s necessary to reflect on the things that make you happy all year-round, in the spirit of the season, the ASDA Editorial Board shares what we are thankful for — from family, friends and post-graduation plans, to pets, food and cold brew.

Jeannie Binder, Editor-in-Chief, Texas-Houston ’21: “There are so many things I’m grateful for: making it through this semester, Cat hasn’t had an accident on the bed in 48 hours, the 17 pies scheduled to be at my family’s Thanksgiving, incredible friends and family in my life, new connections and cold-brew coffee on tap at the dental school café.”

Shilpa Kudva, Electronic Editor, Texas A&M ’21: “I’m thankful for my family and friends, who have helped me get through a stressful third year, especially with the transition into clinic. I’m grateful for the opportunity learn new clinical skills. Dental school is hard but made so much easier by the amazing faculty we get to learn from every single day. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to help people with the skills we’re learning now!”

Mari Liestman, Contributing Editor, Marquette ’20: “I am thankful for my support system that continues to grow as life takes its many twists and turns — sometimes surprising ones, but always bringing me to where I’m supposed to be. Besides family and friends having my back, my cat Al is always prepared to snuggle away the stress of dental school. Without him, I’d be a lot more stressed and my clothes would be a lot less furry.”

Isabel Pennings, Contributing Editor, Creighton ’20: “This year, I am thankful that graduation is just around the corner. I’m also thankful to ASDA, to my fellow editorial board members and for the opportunity to help lead Contour for a great two years. I’ll miss working on this amazing team! Here’s to hoping I become a dental celebrity after I graduate so people will still want to read the fascinating articles I write about teeth.”

Casey Rhines, Contributing Editor, Detroit-Mercy ’20: “I look back on this last year with adoring eyes and a full heart. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with the rest of the editorial board — my personal cheerleaders spread throughout the country. I’m giving thanks for the hundreds of yoga poses, the thousands of steps and the millions of deep breaths my body has pulled me through this year; youth and health are beautiful wonders that I am not often enough grateful for.

“I also am thankful for the boyfriend I broke up with, the books I didn’t finish, the “molar endo” that was actually a vertical root fracture, the delayed flight that stuck me in Pittsburgh for an extra day and all the failed mock board exams because my #14 access was too big — no, too small — no, definitely too big. Each experience brought me closer to my end goal of success and happiness. I give thanks for all the learning I did this year and all the chapters in my life that are coming to an end. As a fourth-year student, I know 2020 will be the conclusion of a bittersweet (but like 40% dark chocolate, it’s mostly sweet) era of my life. Bring on graduation!”

Jessica Rudman, Contributing Editor, Connecticut ’20: “This has been one of toughest, yet best years of both my life and dental school. It was filled with many struggles but even more successes. I am thankful for my family and friends who helped support me throughout the year. I am thankful for ASDA for allowing me to make the connections I have with national, district and chapter leaders. Serving on the editorial board has been my favorite experience throughout dental school.

“I also am thankful that I was offered a position in an endodontics program this year at Texas A&M in Dallas, starting in July. Although it was tough getting to this point, I am thankful beyond words for the opportunity to become an endodontist and help preserve patients’ natural teeth. I could never have done this without friends, family and patient, caring faculty members. I also recently traveled to Israel with my dad to visit my brother who is living there. I am thankful for not only the pounds of hummus consumed, but that I was able to see him this year, as he will not be returning home for a long time and who knows when I’ll have the chance to visit again.

“This has been an incredible year, and I am continually thankful for everyone who has supported me and stands by me as I finish up this chapter. Now bring on the turkey!”

Callista Schulenburg, Electronic Editor, LECOM ’22: “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. I can’t remember where I heard that before, but it stuck with me for a long time. It is a great reminder, too, because even though second year of dental school has been challenging, I am grateful for the opportunity to write, edit and collaborate with the editorial board, as well as with other ASDA leaders and students from all over the country. I am thankful for my family, because we’ve been through a lot this year, and it has brought us closer and reminded us of our strength when we’re together. I am thankful for my friends, my roommate and my dental school colleagues who bring joy and light and laughter into each day. I am thankful for the beach sunsets, the ocean waves, the swaying palms, a cozy hammock and a book in hand, for sometimes you have to kick your feet up and be grateful for exactly where you are.”

Emily Williams, Contributing Editor, Georgia ’20: “This year marks a season of transition for me. I just took my last exams of dental school and will be graduating in May, and then starting a periodontics residency at LSU in July, so I am thankful to officially be halfway done with my dental education! I am thankful for the experiences I have had as a contributing editor for Contour and the wonderful people I have met through ASDA, as well as my opportunity to write about some toothier facets of art history. I am thankful for my relationship with my wonderful grandmother who passed away in September, as well as my relationships with the rest of my family, friends, faculty and patients — I couldn’t have made it this far without them.

“Lastly, I don’t know where I would be without the excellent cheese selection at the fancy Kroger, the Vivino app, the nature trail along the Augusta canal and Ina Garten.”

What are you thankful for?


The American Student Dental Association is a national student-run organization that protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students.

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