The American Student Dental Association (ASDA) held its 2018 Annual Session in Anaheim California this year. The theme for the event was Lights, Camera, ASDA.
The Annual Session is a time for ASDA members from schools across the country to come together and vote in the national elections for an executive committee and to represent their schools in the House of Delegates.
I really enjoyed the ASDA National Leadership Conference last year in Chicago, you can read about my experience here. Since then, I’ve been kind of hooked to national ASDA events. I even ran for a national political position and lost! Woot!
Annual is not for everyone
Where NLC has amazing breakout sessions and inspiring speakers, Annual Session had little of that. Much of Annual Session is the business and politics of running ASDA. If you’re into that sort of thing then this event is for you. I dig politics, but Annual just isn’t my jam.
Although I enjoyed my time in Anaheim, I came away feeling like I didn’t really achieve much or grow. Unlike NLC, or National Lobby Day in Washington, I struggled to find my sense of purpose at Annual Session.
The days at Annual are very long. Below is a look at this year’s schedule to give you an idea of what goes on at Annual Session:
Wednesday, Feb. 21
3 – 8 p.m. Registration
6 – 8 p.m. Welcome reception
Thursday, Feb. 22
7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast
7 – 11 a.m. Registration
8 – 8:30 a.m. Joint district caucuses
8:30 – 10 a.m. House of Delegates business meeting I
10 – 10:30 a.m. Coffee Break
10:30 – Noon House of Delegates business meeting II
Noon – 1 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Deadline for resolutions
1 – 1:45 p.m. District caucuses
1:45 – 2 p.m. Break
2 – 3:15 p.m. Keynote presentation: Kai Kight
3:30 – 6 p.m. Dental Expo
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Zumba class (optional)
Friday, Feb. 23
6:30 – 7:30 a.m. Breakfast
7 – 8:30 a.m. Registration
7:30 – 10:30 a.m. District caucuses – candidate questioning
10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Coffee break
10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Reference Committee hearings
12:15 – 1:15 p.m. Lunch & learn
1 – 6:30 p.m. Headshot lounge
1:15 – 2:15 p.m. Spotlight sessions (Sponsored breakouts)
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Chapter ‘Stage Crew’ idea exchanges
4:15 – 5:30 p.m. Gold Crown Awards ceremony
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Gold Crown Awards reception
Saturday, Feb. 24
7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast & registration8 – 9 a.m. District caucuses
8 – 11 a.m. Predental workshop
9 – 10:15 a.m. First ballot
9:15 – 9:45 a.m. Spotlight sessions (Sponsored breakouts)
10 – 10:50 a.m. “Shine in the Biggest Role of Your Life”
10:50 – 11:15 a.m. Coffee break
11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. House of Delegates business meeting III
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Second Ballot
1:45 – 3:15 p.m. House of Delegates business meeting IV
3:15 – 3:45 p.m. President’s coffee break
3:45 – 5 p.m. District caucuses
7 – 11:30 p.m. President’s Gala
Alone on an island
Anyone who knows me is aware that I follow politics closely. I am also the political advocacy chair for my school’s ASDA chapter. That said, I still felt completely out of place at all of the delegates meetings, caucuses, and even the House of Delegates meeting.
Although I was accompanied by 20 of my classmates, I couldn’t help but feel that we as a school were sort of alone on our own island, lost somewhere in the sea of organized student dentistry.
Midwestern isn’t well-represented in national ASDA, which could be part of the reason I felt a chasm between our chapter leadership and national leadership. Throughout the conference it was apparent that there are schools that are connected and those that are not. Ours is decidedly the latter this year.
Gold Crown Awards
The Gold Crown Awards Ceremony is held during Annual Session. This is the main draw for Annual Session, and the main reason so many of us attend. I was there to represent Midwestern for the new website we rolled out last year at https://www.mwuazasda.com. We didn’t win, but I’m proud of the work we did.
Awards are given to ASDA chapters for all kinds of things. There are awards for political advocacy, volunteerism, membership drives, fundraising, newsletters, blog articles, etc. It’s actually pretty neat. The entire event is run like the Academy Awards and people really dress up for it.
Our school didn’t win any awards this year. In all, we have five gold crowns from previous years. Hopefully we’ll win one next year. Although we all walked away a bit disappointed, the ceremony was fun and the food that went with it was actually really good!
The Happiest Place on Earth
You really can’t go wrong holding a conference at Disneyland. Although I left immediately after Annual Session ended, many of my classmates went to Disneyland. I’ve said before that one of the greatest benefits of ASDA is the relationships you form at events like these.
I had dinner with some first year students at my school on our second night. Later we went to a party sponsored by a corporate dental chain. Seeing people in class and in the hallways isn’t the same as spending time with them at Disneyland. Like any other national conference, Annual Session was great for networking and forming relationships.
It may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but I think I’ll skip Disneyland next year. I’ll be sure to write about my experience in Washington at National Lobby Day coming up in April. On the off chance that I am lured back to California next year, I’ll be sure to write about that too.