Posts tagged Activities
'Tis the Season for Giving

Warm Clothing drive 1 (1)Over the past year, ASDA has had increasing involvement with the Comitis Shelter, a shelter near campus that houses individuals and families. Since beginning our involvement with the shelter, I’ve been surprised to learn more about the causes of homelessness and the statistics of those that are affected. For example, did you know there are over 14,000 homeless children in Colorado? As the holidays approach, giving back to our local community becomes increasingly important and your help can truly make a difference for a family in need. One of the most crucial steps to helping is to become educated about individuals experiencing homelessness and to deconstruct misperceptions. During our first time volunteering at Comitis, I met a veteran currently undergoing chemotherapy at the Anschutz campus. Because of the intensive treatment, he’s unable to work and is residing at the shelter with his two young daughters. This gentleman, among others, represents one of the real reasons that a majority of these individuals are homeless. Sickness happens. Job loss happens. Death happens. Divorce happens. Sometimes people experience tough times.

My mentor, Dr. Bruce, inspired me years ago to take on a giving attitude as a dental student and eventual practitioner. In addition to running a successful practice, Dr. Bruce and his wife volunteer at a local shelter once a week to provide dental care to those in need. His goal is to provide emotional and spiritual guidance in addition to dental care to enable people to live a better life. I’ve witnessed the personal transformations and success stories of those that Dr. Bruce has worked with and have been inspired to continue this act of giving now, and throughout my career.

How can we, as students, make a difference in the lives of others? In addition to providing dental education, there are several ways we can give back. Below are 5 ways you can help from this holiday season and throughout the year. Visit for a full list of ideas for involvement!


  1. Volunteer at a shelter - Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services. For the homeless, a shelter can be as little as a place to sleep out of the rain, or as much as a step toward self-sufficiency.
  2. Tutor homeless children - A tutor can make all the difference. Just having adult attention can spur children to do their best. Many programs exist in shelters, transitional housing programs, and schools that require interested volunteers. Or begin you own tutor volunteer corps at your local shelter. It takes nothing more than a little time.
  3. Donate clothing - Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good shape, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless.
  4. Donate toys – Children living in shelters have few possessions --if any-- including toys. Homeless parents have more urgent demands on what little money they have, such as food and clothing. So often these children have nothing to play with and little to occupy their time. You can donate toys, books, and games to family shelters to distribute to homeless children. For Christmas or Chanukah, ask your friends and co-workers to buy and wrap gifts for homeless children.
  5. Teach about the homeless - If you do volunteer work with the homeless, you can become an enthusiast and extend your enthusiasm to others. You can infect others with your own sense of devotion by writing letters to the editor of your local paper.


Comitis VolunteerThis year, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside so many good hearted and compassionate individuals dedicated to making a positive difference in our community. During our school wide warm clothing donation drive for our local shelter, hundreds of students and faculty donated warm clothing and helped spread the word to local organizations. The DS1 students even raised enough money to purchase nearly 30 coats for the shelter! Colorado winters are rough and it was great to see so many students work together to help keep people warm this winter.

It’s the season of giving and now is the perfect time to give back and help families in need. Check out this website to learn more about facts and statistics of those experiencing homelessness and email me if you’d like to get involved!

How the NLC Changed the Way I Think About ASDA
Two weeks into my second year of dental school I received an email notifying me that I had been selected to be fully funded to go to the National Leadership Conference in Chicago. I was excited to travel to a new city and experience the conference with my peers. Little did I know this new experience would also help me view my profession in a new way.
My first year of dental school I wasn’t as involved in ASDA as I could have been. I went to many of the lunch and learns and participated in weekend events when I had time. Up until this point I hadn’t really taken much of an interest in the power that ASDA and organized dentistry could provide me. After this conference I realized that it would be silly to continue on in my dental education without pursuing this essential side of dentistry as well.
Our dental schools do the job of teaching us what we will do as dentists as far as procedures and patient care goes. Unfortunately the time we spend in school is so limited that we barely touch on how to excel as a dentist in our profession. These characteristics are often times intangible and may have the potential to make or break us as dentists. This conference addressed many of these characteristics with sessions on practice management, ethics, finance, patient management, running a successful private practice, and many others. We got to hear from numerous talented speakers and new dentists on their transitions from school to practice and the qualities that make a good leader.
Even though I am in the deep dark cave of second year, at this conference I got a glimpse of the sweet fresh air that awaits us as dentists. This conference broadened my perspective and reminded me that dentistry is so much more than exams and lab practicals. Thankfully we will have the ability to be successful by treating our patients with tact and making smart decisions in our practice. While we may not have all of these skills right now as students, ASDA and the ADA give us the opportunities and connections to gain these skills and become successful dentists.
NLC Experience as the DS1 Essay Scholarship Winner

12028746_525042934317332_2280680843332817981_o As a student of the Dental Medicine program of Colorado, I was lucky to have been chosen to attend the National ASDA Leadership Conference in Chicago. I had never even heard of ASDA before entering dental school, and was honestly apprehensive of the passion and excitement many showed for this organization. As an undergraduate, I was apart of the Biology and Chemistry club, but they were never the most exciting parts of my undergraduate career. I was really mostly excited to see Chicago, which was about to change.

Before attending, I had written a paper on the word “leadership” and what it meant to me; this put me in the running to be fully funded to Chicago NLC. I was then informed that my essay was chosen, and I was lucky enough to be fully funded. I was so ecstatic, but had no idea what to expect. With my anatomy exams the following week, I was worried that attending NLC would take away invaluable study time.

Nevertheless, I attended NLC and can truly say I regret nothing. I arrived at the gorgeous Hilton Chicago and I was in awe. I attended the sessions and it was so exciting to see so many dental students from so many places in one room. These people were like me, and all were hungry for knowledge of the career they are pursuing.

Sessions I attended included mostly post-grad options and ways to be smart financially while owning a business. While I still have a while until I have to worry about these things, it’s never too early to start having a plan. As a first year dental student, I think a lot of us lose sight of the reason why we’re here; many of our beginning classes have nothing to do with dentistry. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day tests and studying that sometimes it becomes the question “why am I doing this”, rather than “I’m so excited I made the right career decision”.

NLC brought back the motivation I came into this semester with, fresh out of being accepted into dental school. I’ve heard many times that these conferences “aren’t for first years,” when ASDA NLC has so much for first year students. The great thing about this conference is that students of ALL CLASSES can take home information on study strategies, residencies, practices, budgeting, and so much more!

As if all of this information wasn’t good enough, I was able to attend  so many events to interact with other dental students from in and out of our district. Hearing that another student 2,000 miles away was going through the same worries and fears as me was comforting. I was also able to bond with my own classmates, reassuring each other that our missed study weekend was worth it.

Chicago NLC was one of the most fun, informational, and motivational trip I have ever attended.  I would recommend ANY dental student that has a desire to be successful to attend next year. I may have missed a weekend of studying (which ended up not mattering because I did great on my exams), but I gained a an endless amount of knowledge about dentistry and becoming a business owner.

Thank you ASDA!

True Life: How I Caught ASDA FEVER

10734220_10152804405556465_8140816476630931520_nAs a first year dental student, I certainly didn’t start out with a very firm grasp on what ASDA was and how it could help me to become a more informed and capable dentist. However, as I’ve progressed through my first year I have become more involved in ASDA and learned what a valuable asset it can be to us as dental students. This February, I had the privilege of being sent to Boston for the ASDA Annual Session. This trip was not only an extremely fun adventure; it was also HUGE in helping me to understand the scope of the organization. Upon returning from the ASDA session I felt like I had to share this experience with everyone! So here it is, the top 5 reasons that every ASDA member should put attending annual session on their dental school bucket list!


1. Networking with dental students from every other school in the country.

Besides making lots of friends, the great thing about meeting students from all over the country is that you tap into a powerhouse of opportunity and ideas. I’ve met upperclassmen that are pumped about service and outreach, as well as students that have recently survived what I’m trying to prepare for. Without fail, these students will have great ideas and experience to share.

You will meet students that seem to be living your same life while in another state. They will have great tips and experience to offer that will enrich your school experience. Whether you’re preparing for boards, or drilling your first preps it will be impossible to come away without great ideas.

One student I met was extremely excited about a bone marrow cheek swab drive she had recently organized to benefit a fellow student. This was interesting, but I didn’t fully comprehend the value in our meeting until several months later, when one of our own classmates was in need of the same help. All it took was one quick message, and we had an enthusiastic and experienced ally joined to our cause.

  1. Discussion of issues affecting dentistry HERE and NOW.

We often hear about municipal water fluoridation debates or health-care reform measures, but as a dental student it’s easy to feel far removed from these issues, which are incredibly important to the future of our profession.

As a component of organized dentistry, a fundamental part of ASDA involvement is discussion of these issues with the end goal of establishing policy.Through this process we are able to fulfill our mission of pursuing resolutions which will be best for our profession and for our country’s oral health in the long term. Annual session is where a lot of this policy making begins. All attendees are invited to bring forward resolutions (essentially a legislative policy proposal) to be discussed and later voted upon. If passed, your resolution will be made official policy of one of the most well represented professional organizations in the country.

In addition to the policy making, annual session also offers a number of breakout sessions that cast light on a lot of today’s hot issues. Personally, I was able to attend one called “The State of Dentistry”, which discussed current economic trends & projections, specifically in the context of the ACA. What I learned was extremely pertinent to my future as a dentist and potential business owner. Such experiences are really what ASDA participation is all about.

  1. Participation in national & district leadership elections.

This process is not just informative, it's simply one of the most fun things you will do at annual session. We are part of a district (District 9) that includes five different chapters (schools). We meet with another district (District 8) for a total of ten chapters present. (This is called a Caucus, but don’t get hung up on the terms right now).

Each school, or chapter, submits questions that will be asked individually to each candidate for the following positions:

National President

Speaker of the House

District Trustee

Our group is known for making this process fun, and a little irreverent! Odd challenges, word association, and serious questions all mesh into a wonderful, chaotic and loud demonstration. Come prepared with intelligent questions, but also your most awkward and embarrassing suggestions, this day will not disappoint!

  1. Education opportunities not available in dental school.

The speakers that come to any national ASDA meeting are top notch. You will have a chance to hear from people like:

Neil Pasricha - New York Times bestselling author

Roger Crawford - Hall of Fame Division I athlete

Maxine Feinberg – President of the ADA

Chris Salierno - Nationally-recognized author and lecturer

Adam Braun - New York Times bestselling author

These presenters take your mind out of dental school and help you view your career with a long-term perspective. The information I gather in these meetings is always something I know will be applied in my future. This long-term perspective helps me feel motivated and energized every time.

  1. AWESOME social events!

ASDA has so much to offer in regards to professional development and education, but rest assured, annual session is not just one long weekend of board meetings.

There are essentially two types of social events that you will enjoy at session, those that are district specific  and those that are organized by national ASDA. Our district trustees did a spectacular job of organizing luxurious dinners and/or open bars for us to enjoy almost every night. These events are a blast not only because they were delicious and elegant (one night we had a seafood buffet and open bar right on the water!), but they offer a more intimate atmosphere. It is thanks to these events that I was able to get to know so many other students from our local district.

The national events are awesome because they are super elaborate and all of the dental schools are represented at them. These events included the Gold Crowns, which honor chapters that did outstanding work over the last year (cough, cough, Colorado), and the Presidents Gala, which is essentially a really, really awesome party and the bittersweet conclusion of session.

The social aspect of session was not something that I expected, but it is definitely one of the most memorable highlights. I guarantee that you will catch ASDA fever after experiencing what we all experienced this year in Boston!

So, how do I get to Annual Session? You ask... Well, there are two ways. You can fund yourself, or you can be sponsored by the chapter.

The Colorado ASDA chapter will choose students to sponsor in a variety of ways. There may be an essay contest, or the attendee may be determined based on their ASDA Diamonds. The Colorado ASDA chapter awards “Diamonds” for participation in local events, each time you attend an activity, you will be awarded more diamonds. You can also earn diamonds when you write for our chapter blog, “The Colorado Quickset” or the new letter, “The CEJ”.

Often, being considered for Annual Session is as simple as showing up to all the ASDAwesome events held by our chapter all semester long. One thing many students will say, is that any way you get to Annual Session, it will be worth it! So do everything you can to be at ASDA’s annual session next year!

State Lobby Day 2015

jenna blog pic  

Dental Lobby Day comes but once a year. Dentists from various districts throughout the state come together to share their opinions with their respective state Senators and State Representatives concerning bills that relate to dental interests and trepidations. We, as students, are invited to participate in this event, as our opinions and shining young faces can influence the decisions of Senators and Representatives and their support of these bills. The list of bills that were the hot topics this year are listed at the bottom of this article.

For those you of you who have never partaken in the Lobby Day experience, let me give you a brief synopsis of how it works…


The Schedule

7:45 a.m. Arrive at the state Capitol. Pass through security screening and proceed to the basement committee room.

  • After paying a slightly absurd amount to park for this brief event (you will get reimbursed) you arrive at the State Capital building and walk through the entry security screening at any of the main entrance doors. After wandering around aimlessly for a few moments, you finally locate the hidden elevators and go down one level to the basement, where you proceed to the committee room. You pick up your color-coded folder filled with a list of talking points, legislator handouts, lobby cards, a name tag, and various reference materials including a map of the capitol and “Face Book” packets containing pictures of all of the members of the Senate and House. You enjoy a light Panera-catered breakfast and mingle with some of the familiar faces present, such as our very own Dr. Sessa.


8:00 a.m. The CDA will provide message training to discuss issues and messaging, and ask any questions. Groups are divided by their geographical location.

  • This is basically to discuss and inform us on the issues we will be lobbying, and give us the opportunity to ask any questions. Then, according to the color of our folders (they are arranged by geographic location of the districts) we are broken into groups with a team leader. For example, my yellow folder was for the East Metro region of Colorado, and Dr. Karen Foster was my team leader.


9:00 a.m. Follow your group and group leader to the 2nd floor lobby. Work with your team leaders to discuss dental issues.

  • Everyone then heads upstairs to the Senate and House floor, and this is where the real “lobbying” and excitement begins. Lobbying literally is just that; you send in a lobby card where you have written the name of your respective Senator or Representative to the nice gentleman/woman guarding the doors into the Senate or House, these cards somehow are magically delivered to that person, then they come out to the lobby to hear you give your passionate speech concerning the topic of these pressing dental issues.
  • Our group was lucky enough to be invited onto the Senate floor! Last year, I met a Senator named Bill Cadman who is from my very own hometown of Whitefish, Montana. So, I wrote his name on my lobby card and before I knew it, Senator Cadman was walking out the door holding my lobby card. Two really great things happened right then: #1 was that Bill remembered me. #2 was that Bill was apparently the newly elected President of the Senate. Neat! Bill then invited me, Annie Bielinski, Michael Murphy, and one of our baby pre-dental students that we had recruited into attending, to the Senate floor, where we sat on the perimeter of the room and watched the activity going on around us. And posed for a photo, of course. (See pic, I will email them). Bill then led us all through into his office, which was equipped with a speaker playing the discussions going on in the Senate floor. We sat in a circle and intermittently talked about the dental bills we were there to lobby, interspersed with topics varying from Paragliding, talking your way out of speeding tickets, skiing in Europe, and hearing about Bill’s various travel experiences. Hopefully Bill kept to his word and spread all of our extremely knowledgeable and convincing lobbying to the rest of the Senate.


9:45 a.m.: Switch to the lobby of the second chamber (Senate or House)


10:30 a.m.: Eat lunch with legislators and engage in more detailed conversations about dental issues


12:00 p.m. Depart the Capitol


This sums up our short, yet eventful, morning at the State Capitol. We mingled with some Senators, went onto the Floor of the Senate, sat and spoke personally with the president of the Senate, and met various dentists from throughout the state. Overall, Lobby Day is an incredible experience. It is an amazing opportunity to meet some very powerful and influential people and have an impact on legal processes that directly impact us and our future careers. I highly recommend that everyone partakes in this experience!

Lobby Day Hot Topics!

  • Access to Care: Dental Provider Designation Systems (HB 1191)
    • Last summer, a dental insurer decided to implement a provider rating system that ranks dentists using a 1-3 star rating based only on cost of care. This bill is to regulate this designation program to include other factors, including quality of care, and patient demographics.
  • Access-to-Care: Medicaid Reimbursement bill (HB 1151)
    • In 2013, the CDA launched the “Take 5” program to recruit dentists to enroll as Medicaid providers. However, Medicaid rates aren’t sustainable for dental practices. This bill is working towards better funding for Medicaid dental services.
  • Access-to-Care: Loan Forgiveness (CDPHE Budget Request)
    • To provide for increased student loan forgiveness incentive packages to recruit dentists to serve in rural and underserved areas.
  • Access-to Care: Incentives for Preceptors (no bill # yet)
    • Another step towards increasing dental access for rural and underserved areas, this bill is to increase opportunities for training in these areas by creating a provision of tax credit to preceptors.
  • Scope of Practice: Minimizing Use of the Dental Team through ITR
    • This bill is to allow dental hygienists to do Interim Therapeutic Restorations (ITR), a procedure to stop decay on a temporary basis.













What ASDA can do for Pre-Dental Students

What ASDA Can Do

Like most students in the 21st century, you probably use the internet as your primary source of information. The downside is the abundance of information. Some good, some bad, and some that may not be applicable to your situation. A great solution to this problem is the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). ASDA memberships go far beyond getting the information that you need. They also offer helpful tips for bettering your chances of being accepted into dental school. You’ll also get their publications for free. The experiences, networking opportunities, and member discounts that are available are worth the membership fee itself.

If your experience online was anything like mine, you’ve probably spent hours reading information from various sources. Needless to say, some of these sources may have made you feel like you had no chance of getting into dental school. After joining ASDA, I realized that my chances of getting accepted were greater than I had first thought. All of their information gets right to the point. I learned that the road to dental school is not as confined as some websites would lead you to believe. They have advice on which schools may be best for you, how to write those pesky personal statements, DAT preparation, and the requirements for applying. Are you interested in the field of dentistry, but not certain about the investment? ASDA can definitely help, giving information on life before, during, and after dental school by dentist and dental students.

 As an ASDA member you’re never alone, with chapters all over the nation. Depending on your location some chapters offer great pre-dental programs that allow you to talk with current dental students and other dental professionals. These events are a gold mine of information and guidance. You get to meet directly with current dental students who have been where you are currently. I attended an event that met every Saturday, over eight weeks that was about two hours away from where I live. The drive was long, but definitely worth it with mock-interviews, DAT strategies, and prize giveaways. My favorite part was working with a hand piece to fill cavities on model teeth. The best part was the welcoming and helpful environment the dental students provided. Most even gave their contact information for any questions or personal statement reviews.

Being a part of ASDA can greatly increase your odds of getting into a dental school too. This is a nationally recognized association of dental students. So imagine how good it would look to put “ASDA Member” under the Professional Experience section, of your AADSAS application. You can also build your resume by being active within the association. For example, if you’re a writer, you can apply to write for their many national publications which includes Mouth, ASDA News, and the Mouthing Off blog.

In addition to all of this, ASDA offers discounts and their publications for free. The publications are very beneficial to pre-dental students.  As a member, you’re offered discounts on auto insurance and DAT preparation material. Trust me, if you’re not looking for insurance, the discounts on the test prep material are worth the membership fee itself. You also get Mouth sent to you quarterly and ASDA News monthly for free. As a pre-dental member, you will also receive Getting into Dental School: ASDA’s Guide for Predental Students. This guide gives you information about every dental school, career options as a dentist, and details about the loans and scholarships that are available

You already know that just the application process for dental school is a big investment. Out of all the resources available to you, why not use the one that will be the most beneficial? There are a ton of places where you can learn about dentistry. But, you’ll have to take time out of your already busy schedule to find what will actually help you. With an ASDA membership you’ll have what you need to succeed. Don’t make the process harder than it has to be. Join ASDA now to help you with your journey into dentistry.

~Reggie Perdue, Pre-Dental ASDA Member



The first time I heard about ASDA, I didn’t even realize I was hearing about ASDA. All I knew was that I wanted scrubs with the CU School of Dental Medicine logo on it. Since then, however, ASDA has completely changed my dental school experience for the better.

When ASDA was first introduced to our class, a lot of effort went into explaining what it was, and yet, I still found myself struggling to understand it. When I would ask different members about ASDA, they would all give me different answers. Finally, after about a year, I realize that the reason I was having trouble understanding ASDA is because ASDA is everything. It is so all-encompassing that sometimes it can be hard to explain. It wasn’t that nobody knew what ASDA was, it was just that ASDA was something different to everyone.

Simply put, ASDA is the American Student Dental Association which is the nation's largest student run association whose mission centers around protecting and advancing the rights, interests and welfare of dental students. But what does that mean exactly, and more specifically, what does that mean to you?

Well, to better explain ASDA and make its mission, purpose and benefits more clear to those who are less familiar with it, we have decided to literally spell it out for everyone. The letters "ASDA" stand for the American Student Dental Association. But to us, ASDA also stands for the four pillars of Colorado ASDA: Advocacy, Service, Dentistry and Activities. We have decided to focus on these four categories because everything within ASDA can fit into them (and it also conveniently spells out ASDA). We have tried to restructure the chapter's resources to follow this theme. You may notice that even our blog categories are set up to reflect this new focus, as will our website once we get that fully up and running. Of course ASDA is more than just this, but these four words are where everything starts.

Advocacy. Advocacy is what makes ASDA unique from any of the other dental student organizations out there. Locally, we work with the Metro Denver Dental Society and the Colorado Dental Association to educate our state representatives on current issues facing our profession and topics affecting us as students. Nationally, we represent about 92% of all dental students, so people listen to us when we vote in a new policy and take us seriously as an organization.

Service. Service is why most of us sought a career in dentistry in the first place. Our chapter is always organizing service and community outreach activities. From helping out at COMOM to volunteering at the Fifth Gear Kids events, there is always something that you can get involved in to help out the community around us.

Dentistry. I have had numerous people from my class ask me what ASDA is. Before now, the only way that I could really explain it is "everything dentistry outside of dental school." Even though that answer isn't as complete of an answer as I would have liked to give, it still is true. ASDA is where you learn everything about dentistry that you don't learn in dental school. ASDA teaches you to be a leader in your practice and in your community. ASDA shows you how to manage your finances while you are in dental school and ways to manage your business when you graduate. ASDA helps you to prepare for things that you might not even realize that you want to know yet, like integrating new technology into your practice without overdoing it and what things to look for when searching for an associate position.

Activities. The activities that Colorado ASDA puts on are awesome. If you participated in Thrush Week and the Amalgames (see our Facebook Page for pictures), then you know what I'm talking about. If you didn't, then it's not too late. We still have plenty of things coming up in the near future (be on the lookout for "Shimstock," our music and talent competition coming in October).

I got involved in ASDA without even fully understanding what it was because I could see potential-- not only in the chapter, but in myself through the chapter. ASDA was the only student organization, in my mind, that had everything... and best of all, it was free!

Since deciding to get involved, I have had some of the most amazing opportunities of my life. ASDA motivates me to step just far enough outside my comfort zone that I do things I have never done before, but not far enough that I regret my participation. It pushes me to meet people, helps me find mentors and gives me the resources that I need to succeed (and not just on boards).

ASDA is a lot of things to a lot of people and our chapter here at Colorado is expanding to become more than it has ever been before. To me, Colorado ASDA is opportunity. It is fun. It is my creative outlet. It is networking. It is the best experience I have had in dental school and it has become a big part of my life. I believe in everything that this organization stands for and choosing to become involved has been one of the best decision I have ever made. I can’t imagine dental school without ASDA, nor would I ever want to. ASDA is about getting involved and having a voice-- so get involved and say something. You might just be surprised at what can happen because of it.

Tell us what #CoASDAis to you in the comments below or use the tag #CoASDAis to tell us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter by Aug 29th for your chance to win a $10 Target Gift Card!

~Kyle Luis Larsen, Class of 2017, Colorado ASDA President-Elect