An Open Letter to Predentals

Congratulations on your journey to the greatest career there is! Dentistry is a field of lifelong learning, collaboration, and integrity – it’s an industry in which technology blooms and the doctor-patient relationship flourishes. There is no other healthcare professional that can impact a patient’s quality of life with such ease in a relatively short period of time; a mere crown can dramatically impact a patient’s self-assurance, confidence, and presentation to the world. Smiles matter. Each of you reading this has the inherent potential to achieve your dental dreams, but getting in is the first step (and you will!). The following are my top tips to ace the AADSAS:


1.     Maintain a Google Doc detailing all of your dental experiences (shadowing, working as a dental assistant, etc.)

Many dental schools have a minimum number of shadowing hours required of applicants and even those that don’t require some quantity of dental experience. But your interest in dentistry cannot be qualified just because you claim you’ve shadowed a doctor for 100+ hours. The AADSAS is an honor system, but it’s evident to AdComs when you fake it. Keep a journey or diary of some sort that records when you shadowed, with whom, and what you learned that day. When it comes time to compile your AADSAS application, all of this will be centralized and available for easy entering. Bonus: your journey will be a reflection of your accomplishments and will offer a great point of discussion in interviews.


2.     Don’t get involved in something just to check off an application box

Dental schools seek well-rounded, involved applicants that demonstrate passion for their commitments. Your extracurriculars need not all be dental-related, instead, involve yourself in activities that interest you and further your personal growth. A one-dimensional application focused only on dental-related things doesn’t make you passionate, it makes you a robot. Not all matriculated dental students have research experience and if you feel your talent is better suited for something else, pursue that – tell your why, not just the what.


3.     Build relationships with your professors, dentists, really anyone that might one day write your letter of recommendation

Through undergrad and/or your prereq classes, you’re apt to encounter classes whose professors you get along with. Perhaps this professor’s style of teaching intrigued you, or maybe the dentist you shadowed shared many of the same interests as you. Dentistry is a sociable profession and forging connections is key: it starts when seeking letter writers. AdComs can tell when letters are canned, you’ll want someone who has a vested interest in your success, but also an eye for highlighting your achievements and strengths to submit your letter.


4.     Apply early!

Try to submit your AADSAS in the “J” months: June or July. Dental schools evaluate and interview students on a rolling basis, which means applications are reviewed in groups based on their timestamped submission. The earlier you submit, the higher the probability of interviewing and being admitted at a school simply because AdComs are looking to fill an entire class instead of the final few seats. Extra tip: While it may not always be possible, I recommend one take the DAT before May of the year they will be applying. The ADA takes 4-8 weeks to process DAT scores, and even though you may have submitted your application in June, your DAT may be pending, slowing review of your application.


5.     Only apply to schools you would actually go to

Dental school applications are not cheap (and neither is interview travel). It costs $245 for the first school app and $99 per school after that. Some dental students recommend predentals apply broadly and to as many schools as they can afford, but financially, this isn’t always feasible. Though application fees are paltry compared the cost of a dental school education and the debt you incur but factoring in the cost of living in the cities some dental schools are located in, you might be better off selecting schools that are within your reasonable four-year budget. Only a few things to consider include tuition, scholarships offered, on-campus housing availability, average rent, etc.


Colleen Leong is a second-year dental student that currently serves as the Colorado ASDA Predental Chair aka the most important ASDA position. A former military brat, she’s proud to call Colorado home, nevermind her Texas license plates and questionable driving. You’ll likely find Colleen at her favorite Denver pizza shop, Ian’s (#ad), eating all the gluten and violently typing out emails on her vintage Macbook Air.

Likes: downhill skiing in denim, succulent arrangements, sneakers, rose gold home décor, sitting next to Sam in lab, most things cheese covered

Dislikes: other people downhill skiing in denim, Danskos, vegans, smelling polysulfide

How's my Temperature?

Every dental student’s curriculum includes education of common pathogens and their associated diseases. After countless hours of Microbiology lectures and SketchyMicro videos, I thought I had heard it all. However, it wasn’t until attending Annual Session in Anaheim that I learned of ASDA Fever.

The first time I heard this phrase being used, I thought it was a bit corny. But throughout my time in Anaheim, I began to understand what my fellow dental students meant when they said it. Although it isn’t a physical disease (or so I hope), ASDA Fever is an infectious state of mind. It is an understanding of the intangible benefits not only of being a member of the American Student Dental Association, but of actively contributing to and seizing the opportunities that the organization provides.


At the chapter level, ASDA provides its students with experiences that supplement the education we receive in the classroom and clinic. It was at an ASDA community outreach event during my first year that I dressed as the Tooth Fairy and taught children about oral hygiene, and it was through ASDA events like Shimstock (our school talent show) and Amalgames (a day of field games put on to welcome the incoming first years each Fall) that I formed quality friendships with upper classmen.

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What I hadn’t experienced until Annual Session was the benefit of being a part of such an influential, national-level organization.

Attending Annual Session and seeing the high level of involvement from so many dental students across the nation was an inspiring experience. The four-day event was filled with learning about legislation, collaborating and idea sharing between chapters, and honoring each chapter’s achievements over the past year. We were proud to receive Gold Crown awards for Best Website Design, Best Social Media Campaign, and Most Creative Application – making Colorado one of the most decorated chapters at this year’s Annual Session. The election of our own Austin Tyler as District 9 Trustee further added to our chapter’s recognition.

The University of Colorado has been and continues to be an exceptionally strong chapter both locally and nationally. Colorado’s success at the local level (we won the Ideal ASDA award in 2016) as well as historical presence in the District and National leadership of ASDA (multiple recent District Trustees and the 2015-2016 National President were from Colorado) has earned our chapter a strong reputation… Or maybe we have our reputation because of the Storm Trooper dance we did during the President’s Gala.

I am proud to be an active member of ASDA’s Colorado chapter and to have the opportunity to serve on the executive board for two years. I encourage every dental student to get involved with ASDA and experience the benefits first-hand. Who knows, you might just catch ASDA Fever.


Crispin currently lives in a house near campus with two of his classmates, and although he is the only one of the three who was born in Colorado, he is the sole out-of-state student in the household. Crispin spends his free time playing spikeball, skiing, and watching Game of Thrones with his roommates. He prides himself in being the uncontested #1 Mario Kart player in his second-year class.

Crispin HerrickComment
Annual Session SPEA 2017

Overview of Event:

Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry (SPEA), Annual Session 2017 was held at Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, GA on October 20-21, 2017. I had the privilege of representing SPEA Colorado Chapter at the conference. The focus of the conference was spreading awareness of the importance of SPEA for the future of dentistry and had sessions that focused on social justice and ethics, economics and future of dentistry, coping with difficult situations in the workplace, leadership and ethics. The conference was structured into two days. The first day featured American College ofDentists (ACD) Address, 3 keynote sessions, breakout sessions for the SPEA members with the ACD and also had some opportunities for SPEA members to present their thoughts. The Executive Director of the ACD, Dr. Theresa Gonzales, also addressed the importance of SPEA. The second day featured two keynote sessions along with Chapter awards, Chapter development breakout sessions followed by elections for the new officers.


What is SPEA?

The Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry is a national, student driven association that was established to promote and support students’ lifelong commitment to ethical behavior in order to benefit the patients they serve and to further the dental profession.

The objectives of the Association are:

•Act as a support system for students in strengthening their personal and professional ethics values by:

1) Providing a resource for ethics education and professional development.

2) Fostering a non-punitive, open-forum environment for ethics communication

3) Promoting awareness of ethics standards and related issues within dentistry

• Collaborating with leadership of the dental profession to effectively advocate for our members


Why Did I Choose To Attend?

SPEA Annual session is the only national level conference held and I had a very keen interest in enlightening myself about what SPEA actually does. It attracts students from all the SPEA  Chapters. Even students from SPEA chapter of Canada attended the session. The networking opportunities appealed to me, as did the opportunity to learn from various experiences.

I was particularly interested in sessions on chapter development and also keynote sessions identifying ethical cases since they would help me in future in my dental practice and also use the cases in discussion during various chapter events.

In addition to the conference sessions, networking with other colleagues was a valuable experience. I made good friends with the SPEA members of University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), School of Dentistry.

I also had the opportunity to attend the ADA meeting in the Georgia World Congress centre for a couple of hours on October 20, 2017. I was able to interact with some of the vendors at the exhibit hall and had the pleasure of seeing Peyton Manning LIVE! I was awed by the grandiosity of the conference.

What Sessions Did I Find Most Valuable?

During the conference, I was able to attend numerous sessions. I focussed on topics directly related to dealing with various ethical situations and what to do and what not to do in those situations. I especially enjoyed talks from Dr. Mike Meru. He brought a lot of positive energy to the session. He talked about a few cases and considerations that should be given in various situations.

What Networking Events Were Beneficial?

The Lunch sessions were most beneficial to networking. The organizing committee divided all the members into groups of six (first day according to the regency and second day was random). The lunch was organized at different local restaurants in downtown Atlanta. This gave me the opportunity to network with many students on a one-on-one basis. I liked the idea as opposed to planning a lunch session in one hall.

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A few things that I learned:

1) Sessions involving peer discussions about ethics are much more effective than education alone.

2) Other than values and ethics, Inter professional education, Inter professional communication and Inter professional teamwork plays an important role in practicing good dentistry.

3) Cost barriers to dental care are declining slowly because more and more people are getting insured but still we don’t see as many patients as expected. This may be due to lack of education.

4) Along with dentistry, developing a side hobby is of utmost importance. It helps you be more precise and better at your work.

5) There are basically two levels of motivation. Love and Fear. Either of them works efficiently and then there is a grey area between them.

6) Few things that influence our decision-making process: Values, Risks, Social influence, Peers.

Summary of Conference Experience:

I was very pleased with my conference attendance. I learned new notions and suggestions that would help our chapter develop more. In addition, I gained valuable experience that couldn’t be obtained anywhere else. I understood that SPEA is not just about ethics, but also about learning to be a support to lower class men, promoting inter professional education, sharing ideas to develop dental practice and many more things. The conference was very organized and the speakers provided candid opinions on the subject matter at hand, making the information extremely valuable. In addition, the meals and refreshment breaks were extremely nice and allowed me to save on my travel budget. All the attendees were given a pair of socks with the SPEA logo on them, which was a very unique and an interesting idea. As an international student, the networking experience was very beneficial.  

This was my first time ever attending a conference in US alone. My husband did join me on the second day. I enjoyed exploring Atlanta, especially the Ponce Market. We explored the downtown area a little and treated ourselves with amazing Indian food. For us, eating India food here is like a delicacy.

I was very pleased with all that I received at the Annual session and also hope to attend the next one in Hawaii in 2018.

One of the sayings that I am going to inculcate in my daily life:

“Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” - Wayne Gretzky

AdvocacyAnkita Jain
Be a Champion for Change: Participate in 2018 Lobby Day

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” But, what if I told you that we can do more than give fish or teach how to fish? What if, we changed the fishing industry?


There are a number of key issues facing the field of dentistry, and meeting with your legislators is one of the most powerful way to bring about change. For that reason, I am attending the Colorado Dental Association’s 2018 Dentists at the Capitol Lobby Day.


On Friday, February 16th, dentists across the state will meet legislators to advocate for dentistry – and we need dental students to be involved. Find out more information about Lobby Day below:

Lobby Day Details


Members of the CDA and ASDA


2018 CDA Dentists at the Capitol Lobby Day


Colorado State Capitol

200 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80203

(Carpooling from CDA headquarters in Greenwood Village/DTC is available.)


 Friday, Feb. 16, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.


To talk with legislators about important dental issues, helping set the stage for dentistry's success during this and future legislative sessions. 


No experience is necessary! The CDA will offer training

via a webinar the week before lobby day.


Make your voice heard. Join the CDA at the Colorado State Capitol for 2018 lobby day. 

Register now!


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Lynn Doan
Things I learned at the National Leadership Conference

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending ASDA’s National Leadership Conference in Chicago. There were hundreds of attendees, a few predentals,  and lots of great speakers. The weekend started with Kevin Brown talking about The Hero Effect, teaching us about being our best when it matters the most.


Although I’d participated in a large number in ASDA events in my first year, I felt like I didn’t quite understand why this organization just kept feeding me at lunch and learns. However, as I started documenting as the Social Media Manager I’ve come to realize the wide breadth of benefits ASDA brings to the school. This conference furthered that understanding and makes me appreciate the efforts of those involved in organized dentistry.


The single greatest takeaway from this weekend can be summed up in one word though. “Relationships.” The way you interact with everyone, your patients, your employees, your peers, and your friends can have a profound impact on your day to day life. For example, people take criticisms and compliments differently, taking the time to learn and understand how to best communicate with your employees can help make a stress-free workplace. In addition, meeting peers at conferences like NLC can open doors into future residencies, referrals, or even jobs.


Although I have a million things to do before the end of the semester that should’ve taken precedence over traveling to Chicago, this experience reminded me of why I wanted to become a dentist. The people. I’m not certain that in 20 years I’ll still enjoy designing RPDs or drilling a PFM on 13, but I’m confident I’ll still enjoy working with people, especially if I get to work with people like the ones I met this weekend.



Fun fact: Every other school hates AXIUM just as much as we do





Jeff grew up in Loveland, went to undergrad right up the road at Colorado State University and is the current Social Media Manager for the chapter. His favorite part about his position in ASDA is “the ability to take pictures of people and have it not be weird.”  Jeff enjoys sitting next to Kate, telling Dr. Sutton that CR is a myth, and participating in well thought out discussion in IPE.

Jeff Seligman
Happy Beginning of November and Thanksgiving!


In the spirit of Thanksgiving this month of November I thought it would be fitting to write about what I’m thankful for in dental school.  And what I’m most thankful for and what has struck me the most since I started school, is the community here at CU.


Starting school last year was a bit intimidating, trying to get in the flow of an unfamiliar school and routine.  I still remember the upperclassmen those first few weeks who went out of their way to introduce themselves, make us feel welcome, and show us the ropes.


As school has gone on, I continue to be really inspired by the generosity of people here.  Some students are amazing in the organizations that they’re involved in, how they give their time even with an extremely busy school schedule, to set up events for other students and the community.  Others are amazing in how they help in less noticed ways, like taking an extra moment to ask how you’re doing or being there to help if you need it. 


I can’t count the number of times over the past year that someone in school has seen me fumbling with a waxing or lab project, and have sat down with me, even if it’s 10pm on a Friday night, to give me some tips (or to just sit with me and laugh about how frustrating school can be).  There’s the many lunch and learns and mock practicals put on by upperclassmen and classmates in their spare time to help others with school.  There’s the faculty who spend their lunch break or after school tutoring, and those people in class who never forget to buy everyone Valentines or Halloween candy. There’s the numerous times someone has offered me their last fresh plastic tooth or #330 burr to practice with in Sim Lab.


There have been a lot of really cool experiences in dental school so far, from Anatomy Cadaver Lab to learning how to drill an ideal Class V preparation.  But really when I go home and people ask me how I like dental school, I end up telling them I love the community at school.  It’s what’s made dental school so fun, and what’s helped to keep my head above water during the challenging times.  I truly have been touched and inspired by the generosity here.


Mallory Mayeda is a second year dental student at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine.  She grew up in Golden, Colorado and went to college at the University of Denver.  She enjoys most things including musicals, Italian food, and traveling, but most of all being outside.

Meet Sybil Hill!

Meet Sybil Hill! This interview took about an hour and a half because her jokes and sense of humor had me laughing throughout, and we kept getting distracted watching music videos and Googling our celebrity crushes. Read on to see how funny and awesome our new tech and sim lab coordinator is.


Kimberly: So where are you from originally?

Sybil: I was born in Albuquerque, NM and moved to Colorado when I was one. I basically grew up in Thornton.


K: So, does that mean you’re a big skier?

S: Oh no. I’ve tried but I get going and going too fast, get freaked out, and end up on the ground every time.


K: Are you married or have any kids?

S: I am married and have one daughter and two grandsons. They all live with me and my husband. One is 9 and one is 3. They call me Gram Hammy!


K: What are some of your hobbies?

S: I like reading scary, mystery type books. Not horror. And I like Stephen King. I also love to camp. We have some property on the western slope that we usually go to during the summer. It’s at about 8,500 feet, so you never know what you’re going to get in the winter. We have a house on the property, but we usually stay outside and sleep in the camper whenever we go up there.


K: Any pets?

S: I have a mini-Jack. That’s a miniature pincher mixed with a jack Russel. His name is Opie. Like Opie Taylor.

K: Who’s Opie Taylor?

S: Oh geeeeeeeez. He was on the old show Maybeurry RFD. The continuation of the Andy Griffith Show....

K: Oh….


K: What’s your ideal way to spend the weekend?

S:  Because of the fact that my grandchildren live with me but go to their Dad’s on the weekend, I do a lot of holding down of the couch. Someone’s got to hold down the couch! It may float away.

K: What do you do while you’re holding down that couch?

S: Usually watching live PD. I love that show.


K: What is your go-to kind of music?

S: Oh, I like all kinds of music. I think I was either a singer or DJ in my other life. I’d be lost without music.


We proceeded to watch a 10-minute video of a competition of “elders” trying not to sing along, dance, head-bob or lip sync to iconic songs of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It had us laughing out loud and embarrassing ourselves in the tech lab. Both of us totally lost the competition once Simon and Garfunkel and Aretha Franklin came on.


K: Is there anything you wish you knew more about?

S: I just love learning in general. I’m full of a bunch of trivial knowledge that no one cares about.

[Should we add her to our trivia teams?] Do you know why someone gives you a cold shoulder? It was a British thing way back in the 1700s or 1800s. Apparently, they partied for days on end, and when the party was over, the host would come and put a piece of cold meat on your shoulder, and that meant it was time for you to leave. Isn’t that the creepiest thing you’ve ever heard? I learn a lot of my trivia watching CBS Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley.


K: What are you addicted to? What life luxury could you not live without?

S: Live PD and coffee. My email address is “queenacafina!”


K: And most importantly… do you have a celebrity crush?

S: YES, I DO. Richard Rawlings. That’s it.


When I asked Sybil if there is anything else she wants students to know about her, she said it would be her depth of dental knowledge. Sybil has worked in the dental industry for over 30 years as an Expanded Duties Skills for Dental Assistants (EDDA) and lab tech. Most students do not realize that she is a great resource to go to when issues in lab arise. If you haven’t already, introduce yourself to this awesome woman dressed in vibrant scrubs breaking up our monotony of navy blue. You won’t regret it!


Kimberly is a second-year dental student at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. She grew up on the east coast and graduated with a degree in biology from James Madison University. Kim enjoys exploring the mountains, running, and reading.

At the beginning of last winter break, I was relishing in the fact that I had just completed my first semester of dental school and was looking forward to three weeks of school-free bliss. My sister Erin, a pharmacy student at the University of Colorado, was busy studying for her finals, which overlapped with my first week of break. I remember going into her room giddy to be done with school, and her playfully telling me to “Get out of my room with your break-y self!” Once she was done, we had plans to head out to Mexico for a couple weeks of sun bathing and relaxation with our parents.

A week later, my entire life had been turned upside down. My little sister, lifelong roommate, and best friend was gone. She had Cystic Fibrosis. The number 37 was burned into my memory. That is the average life span of a person with CF today. I had always tried to push that number out of my head, but how can you forget something like that? She was only 25.

It all happened so suddenly. It didn’t feel real. She was just here. After the shock came the realization that school would be starting again in a week and a half. I knew I didn’t want to put my education on hold, but I wasn’t sure how I would be able to focus when she was all I could think of. Before school had even started again, I felt overwhelming support from my classmates. They messaged, texted, sent flowers, and some came over to see how I was doing. It was amazing to me how the love and support from people I didn’t know six months before gave me such assurance that I wasn’t alone going forward. Her memorial was held at the school, and people from my class filled the back of the room. Some of my classmates had met her, and some had not, but so many of them were there. It meant a lot to me and my family, and I will always remember it.

Before I started dental school, I had been out of college for three years and didn’t see friends on a regular basis. Erin and I had moved to Denver the year before when she started pharmacy school, and she joked that she was excited for me to start school so “she wouldn’t have to be the center of my social life.” It was true. I often think about how much harder losing her would have been without these friends. I would have felt so alone. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever faced, and continue to face, but having so much support during the most difficult days of my life helped me adjust to my new reality.

When classes started up again, the school was very accommodating and ensured me that if I ever needed more time or to take a day off, to just let them know. But dental school doesn’t slow down for you. You have to take every test and complete every assignment at some point, so pushing things back is just using borrowed time. With this must-keep-going mentality, it’s hard to know whether you are hurting yourself by not taking enough time to process, or if the busy schedule helps alleviate the sadness by retaining your focus. I think it’s some of both. Although dental school seems like our entire lives sometimes, many of us have real life struggles we must face during an already stressful time.

Finding positivity and motivation after such a life changing event requires not only support from others but strength within yourself. One of the most amazing things about Erin was that despite the fact that she had a chronic and sometimes debilitating disease, she never complained and never used it as an excuse. She went to doctor’s appointments regularly, had cabinets full of medications, and spent time every day managing her health. She was also forced to face the reality of what living with a chronic and fatal disease meant for her future. While dealing with all of this, she continued to pursue her education and excelled in pharmacy school. She was witty, insightful, and incredibly smart. Only those who knew her well were aware she had Cystic Fibrosis. She is the one who gives me my inner strength and reminds me that even the most difficult challenges do not justify self-pity and stagnation.


Jennifer Terrio is a second year dental student at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. She graduated from Colorado State University where she majored in Nutrition and Food Science. She enjoys skiing, eating at Torchy’s Tacos, and flossing twice a day.