It’s the start of a new year for the dental students at UAB which means it’s time for a new round of student featurettes on Member Monday. This week, we caught up with Danielle Ho, a D3 who currently serves as our Vice President elect. Danielle has been involved with ASDA since she was a pre-dent at Virginia Tech and it is clear from her work at UAB that she has #ASDAFever.
Danielle has very fond memories of her time with ASDA at Virginia Tech. “I remember our club was always talking about ASDA and how amazing it was,” explains Danielle. “At the time I had no idea what it was, but I just knew I wanted to learn more about it and get involved. The very first conference I went to was the National Leadership Conference (NLC) in Chicago during my sophomore year, and after that, I caught ASDA Fever and went to multiple district conferences and NLC for a second time during my senior year!”
It’s safe to say that national ASDA conferences are one of the organization’s greatest features. Each conference is a great chance to get out of school mode and get into the real world for a few days. Not to mention the invaluable opportunities to network with other students and dentists who share a passion for organized dentistry.
Danielle was appointed VP Elect back in January. So far she has enjoyed being able to oversee our chapter as a whole rather than simply organizing one event as she did with her past position. “I love being involved with multiple committees and knowing everything our chapter is doing,” says Danielle. “I especially love that I’m able to oversee the New Member Committee that I was once a part of and am so passionate about! I have a great exec team and I am so thankful to be working with all of them.”
When asked about her favorite memory of ASDA, Danielle says it was her first NLC. “That was when I fell in love with ASDA, the people, and everything that ASDA stands for and does for its students and profession,” says Danielle. “It was absolutely surreal coming from a pre-dental club of 100 students and going to a conference surrounded by a thousand dental students and being 1 of 4 pre-dental students there. I felt like I was a part of a great big family, where everyone is supporting one another to better our profession and each other. I still keep in touch with many of the friends I made at my first NLC!”
Of course, being on the executive board of a club is a huge time commitment and with the stresses of clinic right around the corner, it can be difficult to keep up with club responsibilities. However, Danielle says, “It’s easy to do things that you love and are passionate about. I have always been passionate about new members and pre-dentals so it’s fun for me to have something to work on outside of studying. It’s also refreshing to be a part of something meaningful, especially when you lose sight of your purpose while burying your head in the books. ASDA reminds me that there’s so much more to dental school than studying, and that there are so many people walking the same journey together.”
For anyone thinking about applying for ASDA exec one day, take some advice from Danielle who is doing an awesome job in her position! “I believe that if passion drives your actions, you will be successful in whatever you pursue,” says Danielle. “If there’s anything that you love, I would definitely encourage you to pursue it – whether that’s service, wellness, or pre-dentals/new members. ASDA has a lot of avenues for you to be a part of things that you are passionate about – and if we don’t have an avenue for your passion already, you have the ability to create that! If you want to be a part of something bigger than our little community at UAB, I would definitely encourage you to be on exec and apply for positions on the national and district level as well!”
Have you got #ASDAFever?
Spring is in the air which means it is almost the end of the road for our D4 students. Because of this, we wanted to feature them in our Member Monday spotlight while we still can! Our student this week is Tim Davis, a D4 who served as our vice president last year. Tim has been invovled as an officer of ASDA since his first year of dental school and has worked hard to make our chapter better each year of his involvement.
When asked how Tim first became invovled with ASDA he said “I was looking for a way to get involved in a group at the school, and ASDA seemed to be the most accessible. I applied for a position in my D1 year. I started as a fall social chair for the 2016 calendar year. As fall social chair, I was responsible for Back to School Trivia Night, and then eventually Casino Night for a Cause.”
In fact, Tim was the founder of the very first Casino Night! Now considered as UAB’s fall formal, Casino Night is an event all students look forward to right before winter break and has been very successful in just the few years it has taken place. Tim says his favorite memory of ASDA was putting this event together. “By far my favorite experience with ASDA has been Casino Night for A Cause,” says Tim. “I created the event in 2016 and have been heavily involved ever since. I kind of consider it to be my baby. I have put so much time and effort into that event over the years. I learned a lot from it and, though I hope to see it continue to grow, I think we have done a great job in making it an established annual event in a very short amount of time. I really hope to see it continue to be successful for years to come after I graduate.”
After his year working as social chair he then stepped it up a notch and became vice president. “I enjoyed being in a leadership position,” says Tim. “It made me feel like I had a say in how things were done. In my first year as an ASDA officer, I learned a lot from those before me. But I also saw opportunities for growth. Being Vice President gave me the ability to actually make changes in our chapter, as well as on a national level.”
Like any other leadership position, being on the executive board of ASDA is extremely time consuming. However, Tim says it is doable if you simply make it a priority. “I definitely kept very busy between ASDA and school responsibilities,” explains Tim. “However, I think I work well under pressure and can prioritize and be more efficient. I think we all have more time in our schedule than we realize, and if you have something you really care about, you can make it happen. It definitely was not always easy, but we all need an outlet and for me, even though It was a school group, it kind of served that purpose.”
The application for ASDA officer positions goes out every year and the next vice president could be you! We asked Tim if he had any advice for those who are currently seeking out leadership positions. He responded with “I think ASDA is the best student organization at UAB and on the national level, so I think everyone should seek a position in ASDA. The best advice I would give to someone wanting to be a leader is to never lose sight of what’s important. To me, our chapter of ASDA was always my priority. I very much took the “think globally act locally” approach. I think the national aspect is important, but I think as leaders, we are responsible first for our own chapter. Since every student at UAB is a member of ASDA, we have to remember to make sure our efforts are in support of all of the students, and not just solely beneficial.”
We wish Tim luck as he finishes his requirements and encourage anyone thinking about becoming an ASDA officer to fill out an application next year when it’s time to apply!
Happy Monday fellow dental students! It has been a while since our last Member Monday and that is why this week we are really excited to feature D1 Rony Young, a very talented singer and performer. Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Rony attended the University of Alabama for college where he earned an undergraduate degree in Biology. We had the pleasure of hearing him perform at this year’s variety show and are very excited to have such a talented person at our school!
Rony says he first became interested in music when he was just a kid. “My mom was the first person that exposed me to singing,” explains Rony. “I remember singing Christmas songs that she taught me and had recorded me singing.”
Once in high school, Rony really began to cultivate his voice and started performing as much as he could. “I used to perform all the time when I was in high school,” says Rony, “mostly choirs but also solo performances. I was involved in show choir at my school and church, all-state choir every year, as well as high school talent shows.” Rony also participated in a lot of musical theater. “I grew up being in plays so I was usually in at least one musical per year from the time I can remember up until moving away for college.” Could UAB SOD have a Broadway star on its hands??
Unfortunately, Rony did not have any opportunities to sing in college and was very excited to get the chance to hit the stage again in the UAB Variety show. He told us, “I had not performed solo since high school until the 2019 Variety Show at UAB SOD. It was a really cool experience getting my feet wet again as far as singing on stage goes.”
Most singers like to stick with a certain genre of music but Rony says he likes them all! “I would say I like basically all genres of music or at least a few from each genre that is within my range. My favorites, however, would be country and old soul music, such as Ray Charles, Otis Redding, etc.”
While we may not all have the natural talent that Rony has, he assured us that anyone who wants to can give signing a try. “I was grateful to have such amazing music teachers, mainly my mom, church choir director, and high school choir director,” says Rony. “I have spent a tremendous amount of time singing throughout my life in order for me to get better and learn. My advice would be to practice a lot, learn some good breathing techniques, and learn to read music. I never learned to read music and it often held me back. Practice makes perfect!”
Be sure to check out Rony at next year’s Variety Show! Maybe he will inspire a few more singers to rise to the occasion.
The question that is on all of our minds when it comes to the D4s is of course, what are your plans for after graduation? For Lisa this is easy! She will be staying here at UAB for a periodontics residency. This is no easy feat as residency programs are getting tougher and tougher to be accepted to so we applaud Lisa on this accomplishment.
Lisa first became exposed to perio during her undergraduate research studies on the mechanisms of bone resorption. “I didn't have a lot of exposure to dentistry prior to dental school,” says Lisa, “so my initial interests purely came from shadowing different dentists around town. I loved the surgeries and the idea that we can not only treat disease but also regrow tissues. Of course it also helped that we have an amazing perio department at UAB!”
With so many specialty options, it can be difficult to find the one that fits you the most. We asked Lisa if she had any suggestions for classes below on how to figure out their interests and how to pursue a residency. Lisa’s advice is to “go be a fly on the wall in different clinics at school whenever you have time. I also shadowed other specialties to narrow down my options. Having rotations at all of the clinics during D3 year was very beneficial. Dentistry is a very diverse profession, which is why I think it's really important to be certain about specializing. The idea of mastering a skill is very appealing, but pursuing one specialty basically means giving up all the others. So take the time to list out the pros and the cons. Talk to different faculty and current residents to gain a good sense of the reality of perio and not just the positives.”
Of course, with every residency comes the dreaded application process. Juggling schoolwork and preparation for licensure and boards while filling out applications does not seem like an easy task. “The online applications were so unnecessarily confusing,” says Lisa. “Not all programs participated in MATCH and not all programs took the ADEA PASS ‘common application.’ I tried to make my life easier by applying to only MATCH programs, but one program wanted their own separate application, not PASS, and another program wanted another application in addition to PASS. Thank goodness I had another classmate applying with me. We got through it together. Once the interviews started, I actually started enjoying the process! I visited old friends in cities I had interviews in and also met a lot of future colleagues along the way. One of the interviewees I met ended up being my future co-resident!”
Lisa was very invovled with ASDA during her years at UAB so we wanted to find out about some of her favorite memories she would take with her to residency. According to Lisa, “There are so many! Crawfish boil is probably one of my favorite ASDA social events. I usually end up eating the delicious crawfish for hours. Aside from all of our chapter's events, the district and national conferences are always a blast. Being around people who truly appreciate the dental profession really gave me the motivation to get through the harder parts of dental school. The first and most memorable conference I attended was District 5's conference in New Orleans my D2 year. That was the first time I met dental professionals outside of Alabama. It's so easy to connect with people when you already have a lot in common! The last national event I attended was the ADA/ASDA Lobby Day in D.C. with veteran dentists and leaders of Alabama. It was quite an eye opening experience.” Alabama ASDA has a lot to offer its students so be sure to check out all the great events going on!
Finally, we asked Lisa if she thought that being a part of ASDA will help her in the future. “Most definitely,” she says. “I am a pretty social /love making new friends kind of person, but my ultimate goal is to have my own private practice one day. That thought always seemed kind of lonely, but through my involvements in ASDA and organized dentistry, I know now that dentistry is not a solitary profession. There is a large network of dentists from all over the country who attend national/state/local events to help each other out. The first time I attended a practice management course was at an ASDA event. Someone once told me that once we graduate, the actual practice of dentistry is the easiest part. It is everything else that is difficult. By continuing to stay involved with the ADA or another dentistry organization, I know I will save myself from making a lot of mistakes in the future because I will have mentors who can help guide me in the right direction.”
Thanks for all the great advice Lisa! It is clear that ASDA and organized dentistry has a lot to offer us both while we are still in dental school and beyond graduation. Dental school can challenge us to our breaking point at times but we have to remember that we are not alone in our endeavor to pursue this profession. As Lisa told us, “Dental school has been a lot of fun BUT… only 88 days until graduation!” Keep trudging along everyone!
Happy New Year fellow teeth people! To start off the new year we are featuring Anna Marie Ronderos, a D2 who is a gifted clog dancer. What is clog dancing you ask? It’s a form of step dance with a focus on very intricate footwork. It is somewhat similar to tap dancing in that the routines are made up of variations of rhythmic tap sounds.
Anna Marie was in the 4th grade when she started clogging. “I did all styles of dance before this and wanted to try something new!” she says. “I started competing beginning in the 5th grade with a team called Dynamic Edition and continued until 9th grade. I continued to clog for talent shows and different competitions ever since. It is a fun mix of tap/jazz and hip-hop! It is not normally what people think of when they hear clogging. Normally people associate is with Irish step dancing or line dancing to country music, so it is very cool to surprise people when they ask me to clog or show them videos.”
Clogging is very big in the southeast and the competition is fierce. Anna Marie participated in several clogging competitions throughout her career and even competed in the clogging National Championship. In fact, she won this competition! “It’s my favorite memory of clogging, we got rings and everything!” she says. “However the ‘national’ part of champion is not so national seeing as though only people in the southeast really clog! But I will take the title haha."
The entire school was able to witness Anna Marie’s clogging talent last year at the annual student Variety Show. She wowed the crowd with her stylish costume and cool routine. “I loved clogging in the Variety Show this past year and I hope to continue to do it every year!” We are all excited to see her perform again this year!
Clogging is not the easiest talent to learn but it could be a fun new style of dance for all those dancers out there! Anna Marie’s advice is to “build up some cardio stamina before you try to clog! It’s a workout. No joke!” Whatever your dance level may be, it’s fun to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Who knows, you could become a great clogger too!
Keaton says her favorite memory from being on the track/cross country team at Troy was all of the close friendships she made and the high level of intensity in competition. “It was an amazing feeling when all of my hard work from practice showed through at the end of the week in our races,” says Keaton. “Having all my closest friends with me through every practice and race, working hard and getting better together definitely made for the greatest memories over the four years!”
Running is a great stress reliever as well as a great way to get exercise. While Keaton is much busier now that she is in dental school, she says she does her best to run as often as she can. “I still try to run at least 3-4 times a week,” says Keaton. “School definitely gets busy, but sometimes a good run is an awesome stress reliever during a crazy week!” Keaton also uses running as a way to connect and build new friendships with her classmates. She frequently runs in the Trak Shak 5K each week and also ran alongside her classmates this past Saturday in the Miles for Smiles 5K. These are two events that anyone in the school can be a part of and are an excellent way to get some exercise.
Anyone can run! All it takes is a little motivation and a positive attitude. Keaton’s advice for anyone who wants to start running is “to just get out there and run! Take it day by day, set goals and increase your distance and pace when you feel ready.”
Thanks for reading!
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
Tanner first became interested in research while attending Utah State University for his undergraduate studies. While Utah State had ample opportunities for research, Tanner explains it was not exactly a priority for undergraduates. Despite this, Tanner decided to major in biochemistry and joined a lab researching symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria. So how exactly did Tanner go from researching bacteria to wanting to become a dentist? He was, in fact, initially interested in dentistry but along the way discovered he loved science and research and was not willing to compromise either of them. “The professor I worked with encouraged creativity and let me explore on my own,” says Tanner. “This made research and discovery enjoyable since I really owned my research experience! Because of this, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in combination with dental training.”
The question that must now be on everyone’s mind is how long does it take to complete both a DMD and a Ph.D.? So far, Tanner has spent 3 years in the UAB Graduate of Biomedical Science Ph.D. program working on his dissertation. Tanner explained “the first year consists of lab rotations and selection, basic science coursework, and developing a project. Since then I have spent most of my time working on that project. Currently, I have a few small experiments and dissertation writing to complete my Ph.D.” For his dissertation, he has been studying how changes in DNA packaging and organization in stem cells affects differentiation to osteoblasts. His work is very important for understanding potential causes and solutions for bone diseases like osteoporosis.
Tanner just started dental school this year and will graduate with the class of 2022. However, Tanner interviewed three years ago with the class of 2019, the current D4s that will graduate in May. He interviewed with the intent of taking more time to pursue his Ph.D. first before starting any dental school training. “When I interviewed, I was aware that I wouldn't be joining a class for a number of years,” explains Tanner. “Other programs are set up different, but UAB sticks with Ph.D. first!” If you are a D4 reading this, it must be hard to believe that you were accepted to UAB almost three years ago. Imagine getting accepted and waiting three years to even begin dental school!
Tanner is a very hard worker but he has not earned the title of Dr. just yet. He says “I will complete my remaining work for my dissertation during my dental school training and breaks!” It takes a lot of perseverance to be willing to sacrifice time away from family and friends in the pursuit of two very challenging degrees. Tanner is clearly very passionate about his work but also explains that maintaining a healthy life-work balance has been crucial to his success. “I am creative with my time,” says Tanner. “I come in early or work with my mice during lunch or after class. I rarely come in on weekends so I can spend time with my wife and kids! I try to make good use of my class time to get as much of the material down as I can, then I study in the evenings and early mornings. Just make sure to keep a healthy balance, it goes a long way toward maintaining productivity!”
Getting involved with research is a great way to enhance your dental school experience. While it may seem daunting to add a huge research project on top of all the classes we have to take, Tanner says it is possible! His best piece of advice is “finding the right lab and project is really important. You need to be interested and care about what you are doing to make it work.”
When he graduates, Tanner would like to stay in academics so he can spend most of his time doing research. He says “Ideally, I would like to work in a faculty practice in a dental school several days a week then spend the rest of my time doing research.”
Currently, he is the president-elect of the National Student Research Group of the American Association for Dental Research. He is clearly very involved with the greater research community and says he would love to answer any questions people may have about research, finding labs or projects, or how to get involved in other ways! We are very fortunate to have him as a classmate and future colleague and wish him the best with his research endeavors.
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
Most dentists will agree that having good dental hygienists is a very important factor in establishing a successful dental practice. They see most of our patients more often than we do! Lisa says her favorite part about being a dental hygienist was the relationships she was able to form with her patients. “It was so rewarding knowing that every day I could make a positive impact on overall community health one person at a time,” explains Lisa. “There was not a day that went by that I didn’t feel like I had helped someone in some way and to me that is one of the most important goals to achieve in any health profession.”
Although Lisa loved being a dental hygienist, she realized she could do so much more to help her patients if she became a dentist. She recalls one specific patient who made a big influence on her decision to go to dental school; “I will never forget I had one patient who was so embarrassed to smile because she had never had her teeth cleaned. After her appointment, she starting crying and hugged me because she was so happy her teeth looked better. This moment really impacted me because I realized as a dentist I could do so much more for other patients like her. I realized I could not only improve oral hygiene and oral health but I could also help restore function and aesthetics to patients who needed it.”
Going to hygiene school before dental school certainly gave Lisa an advantage when it came to many aspects of dental school. Her program was great in that she had local anesthesia and nitrous oxide training, something dental students do on a daily basis once they get in clinic. She also mentioned that her dental hygiene training “has helped a lot with just the general knowledge of dental materials, assisting, dental anatomy, instrumentation and working with patients. Overall, I am really thankful I have had the opportunity to work as a dental hygienist and assistant prior to entering dental school.”
We asked Lisa if she had any advice for someone like her who isn’t quite sure what path in the dental field they want to take. Her best piece of advice is to do a lot of job shadowing at varying dental practices. “Each dental practice is different,” says Lisa, “and shadowing at various practices helps you get a better feel for what profession may be the most appealing to you. When trying to decide on a career path decide what is most important to you as career goals and choose a profession that best reflects those goals.”
It is always awesome to learn about the backgrounds of the students at UAB SOD. We all have different stories of what brought us to dental school and we thank Lisa for sharing her story with us this week!
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
All classes had a short summer break before diving back into school. Many students use this time to travel, spend time with family, and do their best to not think about school. Abbey says the most fun thing she did over her break was going to Santa Rosa Beach, FL with her parents and little sister. “I am from St. Louis, MO, so I don’t see my family often. My ideal vacation involves two things: 1) spending time with family and 2) reading uninterrupted on the beach for hours. I got to do a lot of both, so I was thrilled.”
There are some very exciting things happening at UAB SOD this year including the opening of the new Comprehensive Care Clinic on the second floor! The current D4 class endured the grueling process of construction last year so they are all very excited to finally use a shiny new clinic during their last year of dental school. When asked about her favorite part of the new clinic, Abbey says “I love that the clinic is finally a reflection of the quality of care we provide at the school. The new clinic helps us put our best foot forward, and my patients really enjoy being treated there. My favorite part about the clinic is that our coordinators are finally back on the same floor as us. I visit Ms. Teresa about 30 times a day, so I’m grateful that she’s so close!”
As far as plans for after graduation, Abbey is applying for a residency in Pediatric Dentistry. “If I’m lucky, I’ll spend two years after graduation learning how to take care of kiddos!” Abbey clearly has a passion for working with kids and we wish her the best with her application process!
Finally, we asked Abbey if she had any pearls of wisdom to pass along to the new D1 class. “Be kind to one another,” explains Abbey. “Dental school demands so much of us, and there is no way that I could make it without my classmates. They always make me laugh and have shown me an incredible amount of grace over the last three years. Taking the time to care for a classmate never goes unnoticed.”
Great advice Abbey! If you have any more questions, Abbey and the rest of the D4 class are a great resource. Dental school is tough, but if we lean on each other, we are sure to get through it.
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
Of course, there isn’t much time to work part time as a nail technician in dental school. However, Morgan says she still finds time to do her own nails when she can. “I find it relaxing and I seriously feel restored having a pretty manicure.” When asked what other activities she likes to do in her spare time, Morgan says, “I also unwind by hanging out with my friends and planning fun things to do that do not revolve around studying and other school activities. It’s important for me to carve out my time wisely to do things that remind me I am a person and a friend and not just a dental student! I make “me-time” a priority as well. I don’t think I’d be as successful of a dental student if I didn’t.”
Well, I think it’s safe to say we all know who to contact if we ever want a free manicure! Have a great week everyone!
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021