“Lights, Camera, ASDA!” was the theme of this year’s Annual Session, held Feb. 21-24 in Anaheim, California, at Disneyland. More than 600 dental and predental students attended the conference for the perfect weekend full of Disney magic and ASDA fever. As a predental attending the conference, I learned three valuable lessons from my time spent with fellow members in the shadow of Cinderella Castle.
Lesson one: Building ‘ohana’ with ASDA
ASDA provides a magnificent platform for networking with other professional students from across the nation. It is easy to see the value in making connections and integrating into the ASDA family. The opportunity to network with other members presented itself at every coffee break or educational session. As a predental, listening to dental students speak firsthand about the program they are enrolled in, their strategies for conquering the DAT, as well as how they tackled their personal statement, was priceless — it’s even better when Stitch stops by for a picture during your chat!
Lesson two: Learning about ASDA’s policies and initiatives
Annual Session is where the association discusses important policies and resolutions that impact students and the dental profession overall. The House of Delegates meetings provide the stage where the pros and cons of these resolutions can be respectfully debated by members. ASDA truly values the voice of each member, and attendees were encouraged to express their positions on the resolutions that were brought before the House. Attending the House of Delegates as a predental student helped me get a better understanding of ASDA’s policies and positions on certain issues. Annual Session is the perfect place for future dental students to gain an understanding of current issues affecting their dream profession. And nothing beats pursuing your dreams at the very place where dreams come true!
Lesson three: Electing new leaders
Another important aspect of Annual Session is the election of a new executive committee and district trustees. ASDA is run by students for students, and the leadership team strives to constantly support the changing needs of its members through innovative initiatives. At Annual Session, joint district caucus meetings allowed members to get to know their potential future leaders. The members got to ask them various questions — many of which were entertaining, Disney-themed questions — and then votes were cast by delegates from each ASDA chapter. Before the President’s Gala, the executive committee and district trustees were announced. The new ASDA board will work to implement the exciting strategic plan that was revealed at Annual Session.
This year’s event capitalized on the magic of Disney to foster connections within the ASDA family, debate the policies that affect us and elect a new student leadership team. I encourage all predental students to attend national and district conferences. ASDA has the magic for its members to connect, learn and lead.
~Sarah Ellsworth, Arizona State University, Predental Advisory Committee