This year’s Halloween weekend, instead of hitting the streets of Boston dressed in funny garb, I along with a group of seven other BU students gathered in Chicago to attend ASDA’s 2014 National Leadership Conference. Each of us, students ranging from first through third year and one Advanced Standing, represented Boston University proudlyall but two of us never having attended the NLC conference previously. Together as a chapter we convened with over 500 dental students (and 50 pre-dentals) from around the country to learn about leadership and life skills both insideand outside of the classroom.
The basis of the National Leadership Conference was to teach students how to lead worthwhile well-rounded lives during dental school and afterwards. Personal and professional development was emphasized, and much of the focus discussed how our actions now are indicative of our involvement in the future.
The first keynote speaker for the conference opened with a bang: Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise, led a talk entitled, “Ordinary Person, Extraordinary Change: How to Affect the Masses.” He spoke about his own experiences leading a global nonprofit team and using creativity to develop ideas into reality. His organization started with 25 dollars, and now has taught almost 30,000 kids worldwide. Pencils of Promise raised over five million dollars in 2013 alone. His words resonated throughout the crowd and set a tone for the weekend that continued uninterrupted through Sunday.
Outside of the keynote speakers, the conference was divided up into four different tracks over the course of the day. These themes included Career Planning, Business &Financial Leadership, Advocacy & Professional Issues as well as Chapter Leadership & Management. Each topic was discussed from a variety of different perspectives ranging from resume building workshops to hot legislative topics in the field of dentistry - taught by BU's very own Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, the vice-president of the ADA.
In addition, national leadership positions with ASDA were highlighted; anybody with computer software or writing experience was highly encouraged to send in an application. Not only that, but all powerpoints for the talks are also available online if anybody has any specificinterests.
The conference shined a light on many of the things not attainable in the classroom. Leadership, finances, public policy, all of these topics we cannot learn from being cooped up in our corner library suites. Yet these issuesnonetheless contribute to the field of dentistry all the same.
My main takeaway from the weekend is an aside from ASDA fever: simply to know the resources that we all have at our disposal here at BU. Avoiding the race to be caught up in the fast-lane for our end-goal career paths, in order toparticipate in the field of dentistry through our own way. Whether that is through ASDA, research, national leadership positions or just plain professional conversation, we’re all a part of something larger here at BU and the future of dentistry is our own to make. I look forward to seeing what we as a profession and as a school class can contribute together.
As the final keynote speaker, Roger Crawford, so eloquently stated in his closing address, “Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional.”
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Nick Capezio, DMD 2018