“Dental school anywhere is a wild adventure, but when you’re in the first class at a brand new dental school, it’s even more of a wild ride. I wanted to make sure I broadened my experiences in school. It was all about avoiding the tunnel vision of just studying all day long.
Early on, my classmates and I started thinking, “Well, we need student government, and we need to start some organizations.” As part of the first class, you have that responsibility to start establishing programs that future students can pursue, grow, and develop leadership opportunities. So, we started a chapter of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA), which presented a great opportunity to engage my peers, interact with pre-dental students, volunteer out in the community, learn about advocacy for our profession and patients and even plan social activities.
National ASDA hosts a Gold Crown Award Ceremony every year, where awards are given to chapters for various achievements. Last year, we won a Gold Crown Award for Rookie Chapter of the Year, which is given to a chapter at a dental school three years or less in age. To receive that award was amazing — it was almost like, “Oh my goodness, our baby is growing up!” And it’s great to see new leaders come in with awesome ideas to help lay the foundation for even more to come.
That’s a huge benefit of coming to a new school. There’s nothing laid in stone just yet, so we can implement new programs and bring forth new ideas. When they selected our class, they chose some awesome, passionate, resilient individuals. There are ups and downs in the whole process, and we have definitely been the guinea pigs for all four years. But it has been a really good experience and it’s something that I would definitely do again.’
— Amber Clark is part of the first graduating class of the new School of Dentistry. Next year, she heads to New York for a general practice residency, and will pursue a pediatric dental residency afterwards