Staying Involved in Dental School

By: Sweta Parikh (UNE ’23) and Aimee Parado (TUSDM ’24)

Fall is here and after two months of meeting new classmates and professors, getting lost on campus, and scrambling to find the neatest way to organize our notes, many of us have finally settled into a dental school routine! Fall also means that we are deeper into the semester, studying for exams, and looking for ways to start becoming involved in our dental school’s community. This October, we asked ASDA District 1 members how they have been getting involved in dental school. Continue reading for some creative and neat tips for joining clubs, volunteering, researching, networking, and more from Swati Gupta, Jessica Murphree, Anthony Bello, and Diandra Jones!

How did you start getting involved in clubs on campus?

We had an orientation week, where we met representatives from dental student organizations. I wrote my email on most of them to know more about them and see how my involvement in those clubs can benefit me professionally. Also, I asked around a lot of AS2 to know more about these clubs and their benefits. – Swati Gupta BU ’23

I was a secretary for many organizations in my undergrad and was one of the first members of the University of Oklahoma’s fledgling undergrad ASDA chapter! It was a natural step to get involved and help represent my school’s members. – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

My advice to anyone looking to get involved in clubs is to join them! Signing up is free and by adding your email to a club’s E-list, you will be among the first to know about any events, meetings, and fundraisers they are organizing. There are many clubs open to students at Tufts and getting involved can be intimidating! Simply being aware of what a club is planning is a great way to get your feet wet and half-way in the door – Anthony Bello TUSDM ’24

My school recently had a Students’ Activities Fair and my plan was to sign up for as many clubs I was interested in. There were several clubs that I wasn’t interested in initially, but I decided to join after learning more about the organizations.   – Diandra Jones TUSDM ’25

How do you find research opportunities in dental school?

There are lots of research opportunities at BU. We get emails to get involved. I also contacted our Advanced Standing liaison to know more about getting involved in research. It is also very helpful to contact the faculty of the department you want to get involved in for research. – Swati Gupta BU ’23

Take on a project with your ASDA chapter! After helping coordinate my school’s Give Kids a Smile event, a few faculty members reached out to me and other members to help them with an educational research project. Being visible to faculty who are on the lookout for students can help you find something that fits your interests naturally! – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

Community service opportunities are difficult to find during COVID. How have you given back to your community during this pandemic?

We fortunately had a community service program recently and I volunteered during that event. There is always a community outreach program where one can volunteer. It is very hard to keep involved in community service programs but I try my best to get involved as much as I can. – Swati Gupta BU ’23

Find ways to do things virtually! My school’s ASDA chapter has had virtual events, fundraisers for local charities, and donation drives – all things that you can do from a distance! – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

As many of our students have come to learn during a global pandemic, Zoom is your best friend. Welcome or not, love it or hate it, it’s here to stay for a while yet. Tufts has strict COVID policies, so opportunities to venture into the community for hands-on, grassroots, service initiatives are few and far between. Though it may seem that the well has run dry, community service opportunities are made possible through services such as Zoom. Many service projects are adapting their programming to better suit our “new normal” by incorporating an online component. Keep an eye out for emails and newsletters sent to your school email or sign up for the E-lists of any clubs and organizations you are interested in. You may find that new opportunities have opened up to you that may not have been before. You may also consider reaching out directly to any organizations, food banks, or charities that you are interested in supporting. You can even start your own initiative. Though times have been made more difficult by the pandemic, the fact remains that people are still hungry and children still need tutors− if not more so now as a symptom of the pandemic. – Anthony Bello TUSDM ’24

What has been your most memorable activity in dental school so far?

My most favorable activity in school so far has been becoming a member of AGD (Academy of General Dentistry) club. They have organized many zoom presentations, meetings with companies including Aspen Dental, and a tour to a private dental office. All these virtual opportunities give you insight about planning for your future. – Swati Gupta BU ’23

Building connections with my upper classmates as I turn to them for advice, reassurance, and tips for the clinic. Shout out to literally all of the D4’s at HSDM – I think I’ve asked almost all of them for help at this point! – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

My most memorable activity so far would have to be the Pacific Dental Services Business Bootcamp. I learned a lot about the company and different opportunities as a practicing dentist. I was also able to connect with my fellow classmates as well as other students from different dental schools.  – Diandra Jones TUSDM ’25

How have any of your extracurricular activities helped you grow in dental school?

It is very hard to find time to get involved in extra-curricular activities due to the demanding Advanced Standing program but I do try to find time to participate in study clubs. I find those very useful because they provide very useful insights. – Swati Gupta BU ’23

I’ve learned about 50 ways NOT to write an email and that you should always have a friend double check your writing if you’re sending an email to a large group of people. I’ve also learned that even professionals who have been working in academia or dentistry for 50 years can have off days – give everyone the consideration and kindness they deserve and they’ll do the same for you! – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

Do you have any tips for networking with alumni, professors, and local dentists? Has networking opened any new doors for you while in dental school?

LinkedIn and ResearchGate are very good resources. I have been on these two platforms for almost 3 years and I have made so many friends through both. ResearchGate connects you with researchers and LinkedIn helps you make contact with alumni or other dentists. As a periodontist from India, I received a message from a General Dentist in Florida to help him out with an implant case! – Swati Gupta BU ’23

The Mass Dental Society had a mentor program for dental students recently – I really connected with my mentor and love having a source outside of my school to learn about dentistry after graduation. – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

Communication is key. I always recommend speaking with individuals who will help you get where you want to be. If you have an email or phone number, use it. The worst that could happen is the person does not respond or they have no opportunities for you. You tried, and now they know your name. All it takes is the right conversation with the right individual to help you through a door that leads to further success. – Diandra Jones TUSDM ’25

What is your favorite Halloween movie?

Probably Hocus Pocus. No, definitely Hocus Pocus   – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a haunting, dark fantasy classic that establishes a world that is baked in human culture while simultaneously being so strikingly alien. The interweaving of that which is familiar with that which is otherworldly is a source of strength for the film, but what makes it timeless is that at its core, it’s a story about a misfit who wants to do good. Calling it odd is more than an understatement, but oddity should not be conflated with unapproachable or unrelatable. It’s an intensely human story that wears its oddity with pride, and it begs the viewer to embrace their Halloween town spirit. It’s quirky, charming, and oh-so-seasonal. By the end, you may just find yourself singing “This is Halloween” with a little more pep than you anticipated, and you’ll find me there singing right beside you. – Anthony Bello TUSDM ’24

What is your favorite Fall activity?

I love going to restaurants and trying out all the new specialty food of the month. Also, I want to go to museums while I am still living in Boston. – Swati Gupta BU ’23

Being outside with a hot cup of cider and the smell of a campfire.  – Jessica Murphree HSDM ’23

The fall is a time of beauty and wonder. As the air chills and the leaves turn brown, it’s almost as if the wind itself carries anticipation— an electric and near universal breath embodying our collective feelings. We carve our pumpkins, bake our pies, and pull out our once-a-year flannel sweaters. We celebrate our dead and drive away our evil spirits. We cherish our families and our ancestry in a unique coming-together under a golden twilight. A simultaneously held breath before a collective sigh as we enter the winter holiday season. There is something pure and haunting about the fall. I find no other time of year to be quite so genuine— commercialization of Halloween costumes and candy aside— while also so characteristically authentic. Whether it’s spending time in peace with our friends and loved ones or embracing the supernatural in a celebration of all things accursed, we are free to be ourselves; to embrace our weird; to love and fight over who gets to eat the last turkey leg. – Anthony Bello TUSDM ’24

My new favorite fall activity is apple picking. I recently visited Connors Farms and truly enjoyed myself. Now, to learn how to make apple pie. – Diandra Jones TUSDM ’25

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