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  • Writer's pictureTAREK KASSEM

A Reflection on the 2019-2020 ASDA Year

Hello everyone!!  My name is Tarek Kassem and I am a rising fourth-year dental student at the UCLA School of Dentistry.  This past academic year, 2019-2020, I had the great privilege of serving as the president of our UCLA ASDA chapter.  When I think of what ASDA means to me the first word that comes to my mind is “opportunity.” An opportunity to discover yourself and grow both personally and professionally, to either pursue a passion you may have or discover new ones, to connect with students all around the country and discover, truly discover, how much of an impact your voice can have, and most importantly, an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself.  

When I look back at all of my memories in dental school, when I reflect on how I have grown, as a dental student, future health care provider, and just simply as a person, so much of my growth can be attributed to my involvement and experiences through ASDA.  My gratitude and appreciation for this organization are what motivated me throughout my entire term as president.  It was my goal to do what I could to have ASDA be a garden of opportunity for our student body.  To do everything in my power, in our organization’s power, to improve the quality of life for our dental student body.  Through teamwork, perseverance, and a deep love for our community we, the UCLA ASDA family, were able to achieve a multitude of accomplishments this past year that include but are not limited to the following areas.  

When it came to getting incoming dental students to join our organization we improved our membership engagement efforts by completely rearranging how we communicated the benefits of ASDA via new lectures, informational videos, and social events.  For our new international dental student colleagues, we strived to make them feel a part of our family by opening up leadership opportunities and encouraging attendance to state and national conferences.  In terms of advocacy, our organization significantly improved our advocacy efforts through a variety means which included having congressmen Jim Woods visit our school, having a multitude of lunch n learns and advocacy drives, and increasing the number of students who attended state and national conferences.  In terms of community service, our organization’s community outreach efforts this past year dwarfed those of previous years.  This was done by holding more traditional services, like OHI school visits, to sponsoring new events like blood drives and community health fairs.  Our pre-dental initiatives, while historically strong, were made even stronger this past year with the creation of more and new events that help pre-dental students on their journey to get into dental school.  

All of these accomplishments, and the many more that are not explicitly listed here, could not have been done without the immense support, drive, and teamwork of EVERYONE in the UCLA ASDA family.  Yes, there were moments of frustration.  Yes, there were obstacles that had to be overcome.  And yes, sometimes things did not go accordingly to plan.  But in midst of all that I had the chance to be a part of and witness all of the great things we, as a family, did for our community, making all of the experiences, good and bad, easy and difficult worth it.  With all that being said, as I enter the final year of dental school, there is one thing for sure.  I can’t wait to see what is to come!

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