Classroom to Simulation Lab to Yoga Mat (and Back)

by Sierra Rose

My summer was spent a little unconventionally. I took my NBDE part one exam, packed, and flew out of Denver that night at 3am to a little island in the Pacific: Maui, Hawaii. What on earth was I doing there alone and why wasn’t I sleeping, hanging out with family, or enjoying the few blissful weeks of no assignments and studying we are given between DS1 and DS2 year? I was switching to a whole new set of textbooks and concepts; I was training to become an internationally certified yoga teacher.

ASDA’s outing to Yoga on The Rocks that I coordinated in June!

ASDA’s outing to Yoga on The Rocks that I coordinated in June!

I enjoy being a contradiction. I find balance in maintaining my responsibilities as a dental student and a commissioned officer in the US Air Force while also being a free-minded yogi. I create yin and yang in my life and choose to embrace both extremes instead of choosing one over the other. In my world of black and white, right and wrong, and rigid rules, yoga flows freely and obeys nobody and nothing. It is my ironic anchor in a society that tends to be quite the opposite of zen.

Yoga is one of my passions, and I am a firm believer that a hobby is not a passion unless you are able to share it with others. Naturally, I felt called to become a teacher. My motivation to take on this adventure in the middle of dental school stemmed not only from the desire to share something I love with others, but to reach an audience that doesn’t always take the time to address their own physical and mental health: rising medical professionals.

Over the course of 16 days I spent tent-camping in the jungle, I danced in the rain and underneath rainbows, meditated on cliffsides, was blessed by a monk, swam in the ocean with sea turtles, watched the most incredible sunsets from craters in Haleakala National Park, spoke deeply with my newfound family members that came from all around the world, and learned a lot about myself, people, and of course, yoga.


Since my return to the ‘normal’ grind of dental school life on the US mainland, I’ve realized that my definition of yoga has expanded from what it used to be before I got on that 3am flight. Last month, I had the opportunity to teach a sunrise class to Colorado ASDA students and was amazed at the turnout despite many of us having exams and patients and stressors pulling us in every which direction. Yoga teaches us that amidst the bustle of whatever goes on in our days spent in clinic and the classroom, peace can be found within us. It gives us a non-judgmental community, a place of acceptance, a challenge when we ask for it, and a teacher of life when we don’t always ask for it but definitely need it. Asanas (poses) are only a small fraction of the equation.

As a yoga instructor and future dental professional, I aim to combine elements of both eastern and western medical approaches to encourage optimal health and wellness of my patients, fellow airmen, and my medical colleagues. I practice karma yoga; I do it for the good of others with the knowledge that when a wave is started, a ripple follows that is able to touch much more people than I am able to dream of reaching alone. I am fueled by my passions of dentistry and yoga to attack each day as a gentler, kinder, stronger person that is equipped to handle whatever challenges come my way and live to serve others, whether that be on the mat or in the clinic chair.


About The Author

Sierra Rose is currently a second year dental student at CU School of Dental Medicine from Marco Island, Florida. She is also 2LT in the United States Air Force and is excited to enter service as a military dentist after graduation. Driven by her passions for health, wellness, balance, and fun in dental school, she proudly serves as the Colorado ASDA Health and Wellness chairwoman. In her spare time, Sierra enjoys playing the guitar, yoga, and getting lost in the Rocky Mountains.

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The Dental Chronicles

an interview with Ji An

Social media is an increasingly popular tool for current and aspiring dental students to connect and share experiences. One of our own DS2’s, Ji An, runs an Instagram account where she documents her time at the University of Colorado. We asked her a few questions about her experience using this platform.


Q: What inspired you to start documenting your time in dental school?

A: I thought that it’d be a fun and easy way to share what the life of a CU dental student is like. As a pre-dental student, I was always curious about how the dental student lifestyle varied from school to school. Social media is a relatively accessible way to find out more about different schools from a perspective that most dental school websites don’t offer. Through my dental Instagram account (@dental_chronicles) I try to show that through captioned pictures, stories, and simply by connecting and interacting with my pre-dental and dental student peers!

Q: Why did you choose to document through Instagram?

A: I wanted to document my journey in a digital photo album. I like that Instagram is just that without the clutter that some other social media platforms may come with.  I appreciate the simplicity of it. It’s easy to use and just looks the cleanest to me. I also found that Instagram has more dental dedicated accounts than other platforms. This makes it easier to connect with more people.


Q: What’s something you’ve learned from running the account?

A: I’ve learned and am still learning how to run a successful Instagram account. There is actually a lot of work and thought that goes into it. I’ve found that posts geared towards pre-dental students receive the most interaction. I plan on posting more content like this. I also hope to find content that appeals to dental students as well. Perhaps some late-night dentistry videos?


Q: Have you been able to connect with students from other schools through your account?

A: Yes, I’ve been able to connect with pre-dental and dental students both nationally and internationally! I’ve received a lot of messages from pre-dental students asking for advice. I personally received a lot of help as a pre-dental student, so it is very rewarding to be able to give back. I’ve also received a lot of support and advice from my dental peers from schools all over which has been unexpected and awesome!

I hope to continue to connect with more people all over the world and perhaps bring some future collaborations. So, what do you say, come join me on my dental journey? :)


About the Author


Ji An is a second year dental student. She currently serves on the Colorado ASDA Pre-Dental Committee and also on a committee for the Academy of Osseointegration. She was born in South Korea, but raised right here in Aurora, Colorado. Ji worked as an EDDA for a few years before graduating from the University of Colorado Denver with a major in Biology. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her dog, reading and traveling when she can.

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The Last Summer of My Life?

by Sasha Hill

It blows my mind that during this exact time last year I was frantically filling out the AADSAS application, studying for the DAT, dissecting my personal statement, and obsessively watching YouTube videos on “how to get into dental school” -- all while simultaneously trying to silence the voices of doubt that flooded my head. Sometimes as pre-dental students I feel like we expect failure before we even try. I know I certainly did.

"Do I relax for the next two months filling my time with pool days and resting my brain for this marathon I am about to endure?”

"Do I relax for the next two months filling my time with pool days and resting my brain for this marathon I am about to endure?”

But now I sit here on the other side of this rewarding experience and I can only reflect back and smile as I come to the realization that I will be starting my first year of dental school in just a few short months. Something I have been working towards for the majority of my life.

We can never fully expect what a situation will be like until we are living in it. I may have my idea of what the first year of dental school will be like, but no amount of mental preparation will be like the real thing. If you’re anything like me, you like to try to plan and prepare for any aspect of your life. How does someone even prepare for dental school? Do I relax for the next two months filling my time with pool days and resting my brain for this marathon I am about to endure? Or do I spend my time reading my Dad’s old dental books with the false idea that I will actually understand a single thing they’re saying? The answer is neither, yet both.

Sweet 8 month old Husky, Sloane :)

Sweet 8 month old Husky, Sloane :)

Being a former athlete I understand the importance of practice. Without practice there is no chance of success when it becomes game time. And yes I know dental school is not a sport, and if it were it would easily be considered a triathlon. So when you train for a triathlon you don’t just wing it on race day, yet at the same time you don’t push your body to the limits 2 months out. So, what exactly am I doing during these next 2 months of what people are calling “the last summer of my life?” Well for starters I am trying to spend more time reading—something I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with since I was a child with an undiagnosed reading disability. But don’t worry, my dad’s textbooks are no where in sight! Instead I am reading a variety of subjects in a variety of forms. I may spend a few hours reading a cheesy fiction novel and then end my day reading an article about the positive relationship between physical therapy and dentistry. And I am finding the more time I am spending reading the more I am enjoying it!

“Now don’t for a second think all I am doing this summer is reading…”

“Now don’t for a second think all I am doing this summer is reading…”

Now don’t for a second think all I am doing this summer is reading… I am a Colorado native after all, and if there’s anything we Coloradans love, it is spending as much time outside as humanly possible. If I am not at work or the gym, I am almost guaranteed to be found at the pool; I always say I’m a better person when I’m tan! Although I will still be in my home state for school I know my time with my parents and my sweet 8 month old Husky are few and far between. And with that realization I am trying to soak up as much time with those 3 as I can. Whether it’s playing scrabble or watching Friends together I am focused on being present and enjoying this last summer together.

I’m am so grateful that I will have a support system and family a few hours away that will make this transition into dental school all the easier. I cannot wait to start school at the end of July and know these next four years are going to be life changing! See you in a few months CUSDM!

About the Author


Sasha Hill was randomly born in Louisiana but has claimed Colorado as her true home. After attending Cheyenne Mountain High School, an apparent feeder school for CUSDM, she did what most good Colorado children do and went to CU Boulder (because the bad ones go to CSU). With a brief threat of attending an out of state dental school she ultimately decided on University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and could not be happier. In her free time she can be found working out, praying on Sundays, and taking up sports that will benefit her role as an “aspiring country club wife.” Go Buffs.

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New Board, Same ASDA

by Catherine Petty


Welcome to the Colorado Quickset! It’s a new year for Colorado ASDA, and I’ll be in charge of our blog for this term. I’m going to kick off the posts for this year by recapping my experience at the Executive Board retreat that we had just this past weekend.


I’m new to Colorado ASDA, but I’ve heard countless times that as an organization, we like to work hard and play hard. Retreat weekend certainly lived up to that reputation! We all met in what we were told was Jefferson, Colorado…but it was really the middle of nowhere. Our house had a beautiful view of the mountains during the day and breathtaking views of the stars at night. Naturally, with about 30 board members in attendance, the house was huge! I mean, I slept in a room with triple-decker bunk beds! There was plenty of room for all of our work and play.

Check out our cool cornhole pieces!

Check out our cool cornhole pieces!

Friday night of the retreat consisted of group introductions and forming teams for various tournaments (cornhole, etc.) that we had on Saturday. My team name? Full Mouth Rehab, 40k (shoutout to Shannon, Jeremy, and Tyler). A group of us also tried to coax the limited Wi-Fi into letting us stream the Nuggets game, which went into quadruple overtime (!!!) and did not end in our favor. Somehow, I got coaxed into agreeing to a freezing cold jog the next morning. I pretend that altitude doesn’t affect me after a year in Colorado, but running at over 9,000 feet in Jefferson is absolutely different than running in the Mile High City. Thankfully, Health and Wellness Chair Sierra was ready to teach a relaxing yoga class when we returned.

            Most of Saturday’s activities were of the “work hard” variety. Madame President Jillian gave a presentation outlining her goals for the year and what ASDA means to her. We also heard from a few other board members before breaking up into our furcations to discuss specific goals and action plans. For me, that involved meeting with Sansriti, who will be running the CEJ this year (that’s The Colorado Extraoral Journal, our official newsletter), and president-elect Aaron, who is our furcation lead. After lunch, everyone came back together to recap their furcation goals and discuss how they planned to achieve them. We also heard from VP Tyler about DISC personality types and how to be intentional in working with each type. Finally, Aaron and Ty wrapped up the workday with how to give our ASDA “elevator pitch.”

            Saturday night consisted mostly of a giant Catch Phrase tournament and a bonfire. Regarding the former, I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard! This weekend made me excited about what’s to come for Colorado ASDA this year. We’ve got some fantastic people on the board who are fired up and ready to achieve some really awesome things. Make sure to stay tuned to the blog and follow our social media to keep up with all of it! And as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you’d like to be a contributor to the Colorado Quickset. :)

Facebook: Colorado ASDA

Instagram: @coloradoasda


About the Author

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Catherine Petty is the Electronic Editor for Colorado ASDA and a current DS1. Originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma, she received a B.A. in Biology with a minor in Spanish from Clemson University. In her spare time, Catherine loves to hike, ski, and read.

ASDA's National Leadership Conference Recap!



This past November, CU dental students took a step back from their busy classroom and clinic schedules to travel to the windy city for the American Student Dental Association’s National Leadership Conference.  For some, it meant returning to the conference as invited guest speakers, while for others, it was a first look at the scope of involvement they could have as part of their ASDA chapter and at the national level.  For all, it was an eye-opening and invaluable experience shared with peers and recognized leaders in the dental field.


The major takeaway that was received by many students was just how customizable the definition for leadership can be. Though all attendees were united in their choice of career, the variety of backgrounds and experiences was evident when students and presenters spoke to one another during breakout sessions that occurred throughout the course of the weekend. Each event on all students’ schedules was self-selected to reflect which aspects of leadership they wanted to explore while in Chicago.  Every session was grouped into one of the following categories: Leadership Fundamentals, Advocacy, ASDA Chapter Management, Personal Development and Wellness, and Career Planning. This ‘choose your own destiny’ approach to the conference allowed for a diverse collection of experiences that each student left with at the end of the weekend.


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The conference provided multiple opportunities for students to practice networking as well as tips for strengthening skills needed to expand their social capital. The weekend demonstrated the importance of team building and unity amongst coworkers and colleagues for future dental professionals. Alfred Li, president of his first year class at University of Colorado School of Dentistry, shared his thoughts after hearing one of our own CU faculty members speak. “I appreciated Dr. Brad Guyton’s approach on how to lead a team, build a productive work culture, and to solve team dysfunction. He emphasized that successful leaders exhibit emotional intelligence and set clear expectations for their practice to which all team members are held accountable.”


Colorado ASDA was proud to hear three current University of Colorado dental students, Austin Tyler, Lynn Doan, and Lissette Ruiz-Ibarra, as well as two alumni, Dr. Kyle Larson and Dr. Christian Piers, present as guest speakers throughout the weekend.  Austin, current ASDA chapter president for the University of Colorado and District 9 member of the Board of Trustees, reflected on his opportunity to share his words with the 700+ dental students and professionals in attendance. “This was the first time I was asked to be a presenter at NLC. It was very rewarding being able to share my passion about topics like licensure reform and balance in dental school with colleagues from all over the country.”  It was evident to CU students in attendance that their involvement in ASDA had an important role in national ASDA and that their voices had real potential to make an impact.

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Other students took the opportunity for personal development and reflection throughout the weekend.  Natalie Newton, second year student at University of Colorado, allowed herself to dream even bigger after hearing some of her favorite speakers present. She says, “My favorite things to read are books that talk about leadership, the way we think/psychology, or how I can better my life. So having the opportunity to listen to condensed versions of the big hits of major books or points was better for my learning style and like a rapid fire of learning. I could meditate all weekend about my life, make goals, and be visionary about my future…I saw that the visions I’ve been having are totally possible and shouldn’t be traded for something that I feel uneasy about.”


Choosing to embark on a trip in the middle of a semester wasn’t an easy task for all of the students in attendance, but something that the group felt was well worthwhile.  When reflecting as a group after the conference, CU students agreed that dental school comes with a unique set of stressors that can make it easy to forget the bigger picture, the reason that each of us are spending endless hours over textbooks and patient notes. While feelings of burnout are normal and to be expected from time to time, CU students combatted this with intentional time spent bettering themselves, their ASDA chapter, and their ASDA district when they chose to attend the National Leadership Conference.  Keith Rockwood, third year student, realized this when he shared, “NLC reenergized me when it comes to the grind of dental school! Hearing from all of the phenomenal speakers reminded me that dental school is something we ‘get’ to do, rather than something we ‘have’ to do.”  Students left the conference with renewed inspiration and determination to continue working towards their dental dreams.


As demonstrated by fellow dental students across the nation, classmates, and the wisdom of keynote speakers, there is no ceiling for leadership development. Dentistry needs leaders – for continued developments of national policies that protect dentists, collaboration between professionals across the medical and dental fields, and effective practice models in the private settings.  While the traditional definition of leadership may suggest that it is a quality that comes more naturally to some than others, it can be developed in every person if they make the effort to fine-tune their skills.  Leadership is something that can be realized in each and every one of us, and can take an endless number of forms. 


The 2018 NLC conference served as an excellent way for CU students to become improved members of the dental profession while giving them opportunities to challenge themselves and their colleagues to grow.  The conference is sure to continue to allow for first year and fourth year students alike to grow as people and future leaders in their dental class, state and national levels of ASDA, and the dental profession as a whole. 

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About the author:

Sierra Rose is currently a first year dental student at CU School of Dental Medicine from Marco Island, Florida.  She is also 2LT in the United States Air Force and is excited to enter service as a military dentist after graduation. In her spare time, Sierra enjoys playing the guitar, yoga, and getting lost in the Rocky Mountains.

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Five reasons why you should be involved this Advocacy Month
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ASDA’s Advocacy Month is coming up this November, and Colorado ASDA will be hosting our week-long Advocacy Academy Nov. 5—9th. The month will focus on the importance of advocacy and how you can Find out. Reach out. Speak out. this midterm season.

Here are five reasons why you should participate this month:

  1. It’s Midterms Elections.

    Midterm elections are the elections in which votes choose members of Congress. This year, voters will elect all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of all U.S. senators. This means, midterms will determine which political party – Democratic or Republican – will control Congress for the next two years.

  2. “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.” -Pericles.

    Whether you like it or not, people you don’t know are making decisions that impact your personal and professional life.

  3. You get a say.

    You have the ability to elect the people who make the policies on issues such as the economy, student loans, and the future of healthcare. Your vote plays a direct role in what happens. Election Day is Nov. 6 this year, make sure you’re registered to vote.

  4. Fun fact: Five dentists are running for Congress this year

    There are five dentists running for Congress: Mike Simpson, Brian Babin, Paul Gosar, Drew Ferguson and Jeff Van Drew. Check out Engage to review biographical information and a scorecard outlining candidates' votes on bills ASDA has taken a position on.

  5. Insta-cred.

    If anything, do it for the gram and be sure to use #ASDAadvocacy and #ColoradoASDA

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To learn more about importance of advocacy in dentistry, attend Colorado ASDA’s Advocacy Academy Week. This year we will focus on key topics including: midterm elections, licensure updates and we will have the opportunity to hear from the Colorado Dental Association’s President, Dr. Karen Foster. Stay tuned for the details!

Don’t forget, by participating in these events you can earn points towards your Advocacy Certificate.

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About the Author:

Lynn Doan is a 3rd year student and currently serves as Colorado ASDA Vice President and District 9 Legislative Liaison. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Colorado College. In her spare time, she can be found reading, rock climbing, and watching cooking shows. 

The Casias Storm


This past weekend, I went down to visit my parents and help out with a wedding. My long-time friend from high school got married two years ago, and my family helped out with her wedding. After the ceremony, one of her friends came up to my mom and asked if she would be willing to help out with her wedding when the time came. The time came this past Saturday.

For anyone that first meets my family, depending on the situation, it might be somewhat of a traumatic experience. When we have a plan for the day, I think others might equate the situation to a tornado that instead of leaving a trail of devastation, miraculously leaves behind a masterpiece.


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When I moved into my college house, one of my roommates was home when the Casias storm hit. With screwdrivers flying around building furniture from IKEA, cleaning solution being finished before the smell of it had even hit the nostrils, and moving like we were running on nectar, my family finished a thorough move-in and were grilling dinner by 7 o’clock. By the end of the day, I’m not sure if my roommate knew what had happened but somehow it looked like I had already been living there for months.


Each family member plays an important role in the high functioning Casias storm. My mom is the organizer. With thirty-one years of experience in education, she knows not only how to develop a plan, but also carry it through with a powerful teacher voice. My dad is happy when he’s tinkering. Whether he’s building, fixing, or buying some new gadget to perform the two former tasks, he’s the engineer. My brother is the pacer. He knows how to keep things moving with music, comedic remarks and a pace that gets the family to finish before he gets bored with the project. I am the detailer and follow, my brother and father around, completing the last 5% of their tasks, while simultaneously providing input to my mom’s questions. 



This past weekend we were unfortunately down my brother, but that did not severely impact our efforts or the feedback. I had to tell numerous people that we were not a company for hire and that we did not do this for a living. “My dad is an engineer, my mom is a retired teacher, and I’m half way through dental school”, I’d tell people while clearing plates and refilling waters. One woman was getting married in a month at the same property and asked my mom if she would be willing to run her wedding. My mom chuckled and said, “thank you but we don’t normally do this.” At the end of the night, my mom had to tell the mother of the bride, that she’d only help out with the second daughter’s wedding when that time came and anyone else who asked would have to hire someone who did wedding planning for a living.


I’m extremely thankful and appreciative of my family and of the incredible things that we can accomplish when the storm sweeps through.

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About The Author:

Gabriel Casias was born Gabriel Casias. He took a brief hiatus of wonderful Colorado to study chemistry in San Luis Obispo, CA, but is now back in his home state. He loves to dabble and if not at the University of Colorado Dental School of Medicine working diligently to graduate in 2020, he can typically be found outside. He is passionate about running, food, colors, smells, and music.


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Coming back to dental school & what sets CU apart: An ISP's perspective

Hi, my name is Zhou Joyce, currently an ISP1 student at CU School of Dental Medicine. The day I got Dr. Towne’s phone call of acceptance was my happiest day of the year. I’m still new here, but I want to share some personal experiences since I started school here. My husband, who was my classmate during college, graduated from another dental school in MA six years ago. And with a husband in the same career path, there were definitely going to be some pros and cons.

When I started, I mentally prepared myself to study hard because I haven’t practiced as a dentist for a long time and I learned dentistry in my native language. Therefore, I read slides, listened to recorded lectures, read recommended books if I have difficulty in understanding. My husband noticed this and said slides are good enough and the proof is he had a good GPA upon graduation. I seriously doubted my intelligence at this point. Luckily for me, one of his coworkers, who also graduated from ISP program at CU, told him it’s very true at CU you have to study beyond slides. Thank you for saying this, my dear alumni, you saved my sanity.



I also realized that the two things that impressed my husband the most, are the biggest advantages we have at CU. The first one is from the very beginning of first semester, we are taught and tested according to board exams standards in restorative preclinic lab sessions. For each procedure, it’s easy for us to know the optimum or satisfactory standards, because that’s your goal to pass board exams. On the other hand, we are well aware of critical errors, so you will try to avoid them. In this way, the training we have from the beginning works for board exams. Another is positive guest speaker experience. We recently had a guest speaker for endodontics course. This guest speaker is an endodontist practicing in New Mexico and also a board member of Journal of endodontics. It’s a very good experience to have him here because he combined his practical experience and literature review and put the basic science into use. I had worked in basic science field for almost nine years after I came to USA. Thus, I really appreciated this one-hour lecture which was actually based on well trained clinical skills and up-to-date research knowledge.

A few days ago, one upperclassman was talking with another on the hallway. I didn’t pay attention to what they were talking about, but I overheard one sentence, “God gave you two years to study again, talk less and listen more.” Yes, listen and learn, that’s most important thing to do here at CU. You’ll be well prepared for your future.


Author Information:

Zhou Joyce Chen is a mom of two beautiful kids: Cody, 9 and Emma, 4. She enjoys playing with her kiddos and reading in her spare time. She holds a Ph.D and was a research scientist for 7 years at NYU College of Dentistry.

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