I Tri-ed this Summer

Half our school has experienced it: second year. From the months of January through June, I probably worked out 5 times or less. I had made the interesting (but worth it!) call of getting a puppy in December, immediately before my two hardest quarters of school which definitely did not help the exercise situation. By the time June came around, I was stoked about my extra free time but was NOT stoked about how out of shape I was and how I hadn’t prioritized my physical wellness.

In June, I decided on a whim to sign an Olympic triathlon at the end of the summer. An Olympic triathlon is one of four standard triathlon distances (Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman, Full Ironman) and is the second shortest distance. Even so, it’s a 1.5km (0.93 mile) swim, 40km (24.8 mile) bike, and 10km (6.2 mile) run, which I DEFINITELY could not do in my current state in June. Once I decided I was going for it, I googled a 3 month training program, followed it as best I could and that was that. I was going for completion, not time!

The week leading up to the race, I got really nervous about how unprepared I was. Not so much about how in shape I was to do it (because let’s be real, I always knew I was going to finish bottom of the barrel), but about my lack of equipment and how little I had practiced swimming in open water. I knew everyone was going to have all the gear like wetsuits and clipless bike shoes that I haven’t been able to make the investment in, I was just hoping I wouldn’t freeze swimming without a wetsuit!

By the time race day came around and the race started, I knew I didn’t need to be worried. While I was only one of two women wearing a one piece instead of a wetsuit for the swim, the water was warm enough that it wasn’t an issue. It was some people’s first ever triathlon and some people had obviously already done an Ironman or two. It was my first ever organized race (somehow I haven’t even done a 5k?) and I WILL be back! The vibes were amazing and made me want to go home and sign up for another race right after. What a wonderful celebration of all the participants’ hard work training.

The race was on September 7th and was an awesome way to kick off Wellness Month for me. Wellness Month comes at the perfect time each year—just in time for us to remember how important our well-being is before losing our self in another school year. Dental school is all-consuming, sometimes it seems, but it’s worth it to get out there and try something new like a triathlon (or like a Wellness Month event, perhaps?)

About the Author: Shale Ninneman

Shale is a D3 - not only is she in the top of her class, Shale is also the current Secretary for the ADEA Chapter and former ASDA Wellness Chair.


2 Weeks on Madeira: a Portuguese-African Island

Days 1-3: Caniçal

August 16-18, 2019

Today, we landed in Funchal, the capitol of Madeira. They have the world’s shortest runway which hangs over the Atlantic Ocean, so landing the plane was a skill reserved for only the most experienced of pilots. After the 4.5-hour flight from Prague to Funchal, we picked up our rental car and went straight to the beach. We spent the next two days in Caniçal, a neighboring fishing village. The East end of the Island has a gorgeous hike out to the end of a peninsula which we also did (below).

Days 4-7: Pico de Ruivo

August 19-22, 2019

We left Caniçal this morning and drove west into the mountains. We waved goodbye to the sunny, rocky beaches and drove into lush, green mountains shrouded in dense clouds. We spent the next three nights at a hiker’s hotel, waking up every morning at 6:30 am to eat a local breakfast which consisted of friend eggs, bananas, avocados, sheep’s cheese, and local fruit. We then headed out to hike the aqueducts, starting each day with about 15 miles hiking and ending each day at the top of a different mountain. The north end of Madeira is fairly dry while the south end is fairly wet. Five centuries ago, the northern residents of the island came up with a resolution for their water problem by building an extensive aqueduct system to transport water to the drier parts of the island. The aqueducts are popular among tourists to hike along, weaving in between mountain valleys, cliffs, tunnels, and dense jungle.

Day 8-14: São Vicente and Ponta do Pargo

August 23-28, 2019

We left the mountains behind and are now on the western-most tip of the island. It is hot and dry here with beautiful rolling hills that dive into the Atlantic. There are two huge festivals happening around us right now. One is a pop music festival on the beach and the second is a holy festival honoring St. Paul. The towns are elaborately decorated with flowers and filled with bustling crowds of people. Every morning, we hike along an aqueduct for a few hours to see parts of the island you cannot get to by car and then we spend our afternoons and evenings on the beach or exploring small fishing villages. Our Airbnb has the sweetest neighbor, an 82-year-old grandmother, who brings us fresh eggs and papaya every morning for breakfast. She came over one night with a 1L bottle of homemade red wine from her own grapes and, by no surprise, it was incredible. In return, we have been buying stuff for her from the market up the road and bringing it down to her. Our last day on Madeira was spent at the beach before we had to catch our flight back to Prague.    


About the Author: Peter Popek

Peter is a D2 from Bellingham who loves adventure! When he's not busy in the sim lab, Peter can be found volunteering, skiing, and hanging out with friends.

Life as a Dental Student and BurnCycle Instructor

I remember a couple weeks right before I started dental school, looking ahead at an intimidating four years of hard work and feeling completely overwhelmed by worry. Thoughts spanned in my mind from “what if I can’t keep up” to “what did I get myself into”, “is this going to consume me?” Not to mention, I had previous dental students relaying the horrors of second year and how they spent nights in sim-lab perfecting their preps. You could say anxiety about what was to come was definitely the theme of my first year. While I give myself a pat on the back for coming out of it alive, I came to realize that this “burnt out” feeling was because I set dental school on such a higher level than all the other things in my life outside of school. So I had to take a breath and reset, and remind myself of all the other things besides dentistry that fuel my passion. That perspective has grounded me these last three years of school and helped me keep a healthy work/life balance. 


I found Burncycle in a transitional season of life during the beginning of my third year. It was new and it was intimidating. I never thought I could get that tired (or sweaty) from riding an indoor bicycle. It pushed me physically, mentally, and emotionally to a point where I discovered how amazing it feels to show up for yourself in a challenging environment, put in the hard work, and come out on the other side with whatever definition you want of accomplishment and success. I began to parallel the same challenges I faced in that room with larger scale things in dental school and in my daily life, and I remembered how strong I could be. I remembered the vulnerability of taking a risk, facing a fear and pushing myself to the other side of it, and it was beautiful. 


So, this post is not just about a work/life balance or stress relief that exercise brings me, but a reminder that the other passions we have in life outside of school are just as important and valuable. The other people in our life who are not dentists share same life experiences as us and at the end of the day, dentistry is just something we DO. It is the other things that bring a wealth of life lessons to continually shape and grow us into not only great providers, but great human beings. So, consider what balance means to you and how you will use your other passions to grow. 

About the Author: Jessie Zhou

Jessie is a D4, BurnCycle instructor, Kaplan test prep instructor, AND amazing singer! She works hard and is incredibly humble.


Dive Into Dentistry Day from a D1 Perspective

It seems like just yesterday I was a predental student, attempting to navigate my way to dental school. What is the application process like? How does one prepare for the DAT? Dental school costs how much!? Filled with so many unknowns and questions, the path to getting accepted was overwhelming. Without a “how to get into dental school” manual to reference, I was constantly searching for mentors and experiences to help guide me on my way.

One such experience was Dive into Dentistry. This all-day event put on by UWSOD, gives students insights into dental school that are unparalleled. Participants get hands on experience waxing, taking impressions, drilling, placing composite, and suturing. They also are exposed to the MMI interview format that the University of Washington School of Dentistry, as well as many other institutions, have adopted in recent years. All the while, attendees are surrounded by dental students, faculty, and dentists from the community. This program not only gives predents a greater understanding of the field of dentistry, but also provides them with the opportunity to develop crucial mentor-mentee relationships to guide them on their journey.

As a D1 student, just three weeks into classes, the stress associated with the process of getting into dental school is still very fresh in my mind. Looking back, I’m reminded just how much of an impact mentors had on my own path to dental school. Being able to pay this forward by sharing my experiences and knowledge with others is imperative. So, when the opportunity to spend a day helping with Dive into Dentistry arose, I obviously signed up. Finally being on the other side of things and giving advice was a whole new experience. When I left that day I knew I had eased someone’s uncertainty, provided insight that they otherwise might not have received, and became that mentor that I once needed. This was rewarding, as expected, but I wasn’t prepared for the impact the day would have one me. Seeing students’ eyes light up when learning more about dentistry reminded me of where my journey began and made me sit back and appreciate where I am today. It's all too easy to get wrapped up in the stresses of dental school and often we find ourselves wondering why we volunteered to pay copious amounts of money to lose sleep and our social life. But it’s participating in events like Dive into Dentistry that remind us why we’re working so hard and allow us to re-focus on the ultimate goal, helping others.

About the Author: Morgan Sample

Morgan is a D1 RIDE student. This summer she studied head and neck anatomy with her entire class in Seattle before she heads to Spokane for a year. Good luck Morgan!!


My Cancer Journey

I was 44 years old and my son and daughter, twins, were 10 years old, when the doctor said “you have cancer.” The blood must have drained from my face because the doctor asked me if I was alright. I was in shock.

What I thought was just a bad canker sore on my tongue turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma. Not being a tobacco user or a heavy drinker, I had none of the normal risk factors. I had never even had a cavity and had great oral hygiene. Oral cancer was never something on my radar – I had never heard of it before.

The next several weeks were spent getting scans and researching different treatment options. I chose chemotherapy and radiation since it seemed to be the least invasive treatment plan. My radiation mask was made so I could begin treatment the week before I started chemo, which began on my kids’ 11th birthday. We had a small birthday celebration that night in my hospital room. What was supposed to be a one night stay turned into three. I couldn’t tolerate one of the chemo drugs and I lost over 10 pounds that week.

By week two my mouth was so blistered from the radiation I could hardly eat and I had lost another 7 pounds. By week three I finally had a feeding tube inserted and then for the next 4 weeks of treatment I took all my nourishment, water and medication through it. I couldn’t even talk. My wife and kids got me a white board so I could communicate with them. Throughout the three months of treatment, I lost over 40 pounds, but the treatment worked and I was declared cancer free.

Before the end of the year I had two scans which came back clean, but I felt a small bump under my right chin. The doctors thought it was a blocked salivary gland, but over the holidays that year the bump got large and painful. A scan didn’t show cancer and so surgery was scheduled for three months later. The pathology results came back as cancerous.

After surgery, the surgical site wouldn’t heal. Multiple doctors told me to wait until it heals before another scan. I finally went to a different surgeon who did a PET scan and found that the cancer had spread my jaw and the floor of my mouth. I needed a 12 hour surgery to replace my right jaw with the fibula from my left leg and the floor of my mouth with skin, muscle and an artery from my left calf. I lost over 40 pounds again and needed another feeding tube for three months. Over the next 5 months I had two more surgeries to remove tumors, one under my tongue and another in my right clavicle. My last surgery was in February 2010. Since then I have been cancer free and I try to enjoy life to the fullest!

About the Author: Michael Cranstoun

Michael is an inspiring oral cancer survivor and the organizer of the Washington Oral Cancer Foundation Walk on October 12th.


District 10 Conference!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the ASDA District 10 Leadership Conference hosted by Pacific Dental Services and it was a blast! Dental students from ASDOH, Midwestern, Roseman, OHSU, UNLV, Utah, and UW gathered in Bellevue for a packed day of Dental Business Boot Camp. We kicked off the conference the topic of "Managing Student Debt" with Dr. Adam Burr. The majority of us take out loans to help pay for school, but a lot of us keep the debt management aspect on the back burner. Dr. Burr shared his personal experience of how he was able to pay off his student loans in 6 years and offered insightful advice about the different strategies to tackle debt. Dr. Burr also presented on the topics of "Technology Integration in the Modern Dental Practice" and "Trends in Dentistry," both of which included relevant information to us dental students. Other speakers included Kim Brozovich who spoke on "Profitable Insurance Partnerships" and "Marketing, Branding, and Advertising" and Dr. Linda Edgar introduced herself and her role as our trustee to the ADA. 

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the breakout exercises. Right after Kim Brozovich's presentation on "Marketing, Branding, and Advertising" each table of students was provided a case study and we worked together to come up with our own business model, marketing strategies, and goals. It was really fun hearing everyone's ideas and the different branding techniques they came up with. 

The best part about these conferences is making new friends and reconnecting with old ones from all the different schools in our district and hearing about their experiences at school and in clinic. Overall, I had a great time at this leadership conference and would highly recommend ASDA members to attend this yearly meeting!

About the Author: Laura Vong

Laura is a 3rd year dental student and national ASDA’s Video Production Manager! She also has a lovely vlog about her experience as a dental student here. Thanks Laura!


Thriving as a D1

Congratulations! You’ve made it to University of Washington Dental School, and you’re ready to begin your classes and be one step closer to becoming a dentist! However, dental school isn’t all academics -- the most important factor of your success is...YOU!

Specifically, we’re talking about your mental health. This is a tricky topic to discuss because mental health looks different for everyone, but when you let your mental health fall on the back burner it will always lead to one thing - burnout. I wanted to use this opportunity to share some of my own experiences with the hope that you can gain some insight and perspective to help you navigate through your first year of dental school. If you’re able to keep the next six things in mind, I can guarantee you will survive D1 and every year to follow!

  1. Have a life outside of dental school

Seriously? The top advice on surviving dental school is to have a life outside school?!?!!? Yup, that’s true. Believe me, it’s easy to find yourself in D1 waxing up the perfect cusp of carabelli at 3am. However, without balance, you’ll be trading in much needed sleep for a hatred for waxing, and in the worst case, dentistry itself. Take breaks from school and work on developing yourself.

Take breaks from school, and learn how to check out when you have to. I promise you will return to your pathology textbook feeling revived after a hike over the weekend, a romantic dinner with bae, helping your parents build a deck, or volunteering on an outreach trip.

2. Build a circle of trust

This circle of trust includes your friends, family, dental school colleagues, partners, mentors, faculty, staff, and anyone you share pictures of your cat with!!! To be honest, you need a circle of people you trust to open up to when you’re stressed out, to ask for advice when you need it, or to call you out when you won’t shut up about the importance of flossing! These people, whoever they may be, will always be there for you, and you need to identify them and let them know you trust them, because it honestly takes a team to get someone through dental school. Getting through dental school alone is difficult to do alone, and you will need to reach out to your team at some point..  

3. Don’t stay quiet

When you’re stressed, tell someone. When you’re tired, tell someone. When you’re feeling overworked, tell someone. When you’re scared, tell someone. The odds are someone else is feeling the same way, and you should always remember you’re never alone. There are 60-something other people going through literally the same thing as you! Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional counselor or therapist if you feel that you’re struggling. Hall Health offers many different types of counseling and therapy services. Their phone number is (206) 583-1551.

4. Learn to schedule         

You’re going to have a lot of things going on this first year, and literally every year after that. You might feel like you’re drinking from a fire hydrant, and learning how to schedule your day will allow you to keep track of everything. Make time for things like studying, working out, personal time, socializing, and other things. You don’t have to make a crazy calendar with 50 colors, but make a conscious effort to make time during the day for all the things you need. It can be easy to get lost in the details, but as a dentist your job will require you to be detail oriented, and you’ll have to figure out sooner or later how to get a little more organized.

5. Be honest

Be honest with yourself. If you fail an exam, if you forget an assignment, or if you ever mess up. Be honest with yourself and try to learn from the situation. Dental school has a steep learning curve, but it’s nothing you can’t overcome. The key is to be honest with the things you know you struggle with and try to grow as an individual. Also, be honest with yourself about why you’re here and in dental school. On days that are difficult or discouraging, your reason for going to dental school will be what motivates you to keep going.

6. Don’t give up     

Seriously, you made it this far, don’t give up over one hard class, one bad grade, or bad interaction. You owe it to yourself, and everyone that helped you get here to finish, and to finish strong. Quitting isn’t an option. You will experience failure at some point in dental school - that is inevitable. Look at any setback as a learning experience, express gratitude for the opportunity to be in dental school, and keep going. I believe in you <3


Dental school won’t be easy; nothing worth doing ever is. If you’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, or any mental health issue, dental school can make it worse. However, you need to know that here at UW, you have the tools at your disposal to get help and work through anything you may be experiencing. Your peers will notice when you act different, and they will mention it. The important thing is to know your own strength, and know you have a lot of it! You made it this far, let’s finish strong, together.

Meet the Author: By Dilkaranjot Singh Grewal

Karan is a D3 at UW. He is also on the ASDA Executive Board as the Advocacy Chair!



As I was accepted into dental school at UWSOD, I was under the impression that the difficult part was complete. It seemed that all I had to do to become a dentist was to show up to class and learn everything well enough to pass boards. Though passing boards may be the only necessary ingredient to make a dentist, the recipe for an excellent care provider requires more.

I realized that my education as a dental student is not confined to the walls of the classroom or the walls of the lab. Dental school not only offers the didactic and clinical aspects of our education but access to extra volunteer events, and other opportunities aimed at advancing our preparation to be confident and competent dentists.

To those who are unfamiliar with it, the Regional Initiative Dental Education (RIDE) program at UWSOD was founded on the efforts to explore new ways to educate dental students. Another goal of the program was to inspire more dentists to see to the disparity in oral health that is so prominent in the smaller, rural communities on the east side of Washington. After our first year, RIDE students are assigned to a one-month rotation in an eastern Washington city to start building relationships with the clinic and the community. Near the end of fourth year, we will return for a five-month extended rotation to provide dental care to the community of that area.

The RIDE program has a great track record of preparing dentists to be ready right out of dental school to go out and treat the underserved communities of Eastern Washington. I initially chose RIDE because of my past volunteer experiences with a dental van providing care to uninsured and underserved families. Serving the underserved community is what inspired me to go into dentistry in the first place. Being able to have the extra clinical experience during my fourth year was the cherry on top.

Though we are connected to Seattle through zoom meetings to every lecture, our education can still feel very disconnected. During our fall quarter, I felt that the didactic classes were teaching me a lot of medicine, but I still didn’t know a thing about dentistry. I started to worry about what I didn’t know, what I should know, and what was missing from my education to prepare me to be sure in my skills. Being UW RIDE students, we still received emails about the dental related volunteer opportunities and extra CE events that were being hosted in Seattle and I wanted to be involved, but I was five hours away. *Right-click and delete* became the natural routine.

After our first quarter in Spokane, I decided to go to the ASDA D10 conference in Portland. I learned that as an ASDA member, opportunities to learn and grow in your skills as a dentist are numerous. ASDA seemed to provide means to further myself as a clinician, a networker, and communicator. At the conference, I met a lot of other dental students from other schools, and I got to practice drilling, suturing, and placing implants. I heard speakers who helped developed new technologies for scanning and even tried using those scanners myself. We also got a taste of the business aspects that go along with owning a practice. Lastly, it was extremely helpful to learn about different issues going on in the dental world including policies being made that would one day affect my profession. Leaving the conference, I felt more informed and excited about dentistry. I joined ASDA because there is so much more to practicing as a dentist that school can’t teach.

About the Author: Jess Cayetano

Jess is a 2nd year dental student and the RIDE representative!

PNDC Blog Post- A Rare Friday “Off”

You get a rare Friday off in the quarter. The possibilities are endless; sleeping in, going for a hike, grabbing breakfast with friends, or perhaps attending a 3-hour endodontics CE lecture at 7:30 AM.

For me, and several other students at UWSOD, the latter was actually an attractive option. Luckily for us this rare Friday off coincided with the annual Pacific Northwest Dental Conference in Bellevue, Washington.

If you’ve ever been to a dental conference, you probably know that there’s always one huge problem that everyone experiences; what lectures should I attend? Do I want to learn about practice management, or patient communications, or the latest materials and technologies, or maybe just brush up (pun intended) on various procedures? I finally decided on attending the “Better Endo for the GP” lecture by Dr. Manor Haas. The 3-hour lecture was an incredible comprehensive review of all aspects of endodontics (Endo A to “Endo-Z” if you will (pun intended)). Dr. Haas covered each step of endo from diagnoses, to obturation, and even spoke about antibiotic prescription. Each part of his lecture was filled (pun intended) with information on the latest materials and countless useful pearls in his field. Getting these pearls from well-known and well-experienced professionals is truly invaluable and are tips you can incorporate into your practice right away.

After the lecture we made our way to the PNDC Exhibit Hall. Imagine a large hall with every single dental-related company you can think of showcasing their latest products and services. Everything from implant systems, to loupes, to composites, to scanners, to even lasers were present. Looking for dental management systems? You can find it there. Looking to switch from conventional impressions to digital? You can find it there. Looking for a new dental lab? You can find it there. Looking for a cute dog in a white coat? Yep, you can find it there. Vendor fairs and exhibit halls are great opportunities to network with various companies you may end up working with as well as try out and get samples of the latest products. Not to mention the tons of goodies you can pick up like toothbrushes, toothpastes, t-shirts, and believe it or not, lots of candy.

In school we obtain a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of dentistry, but the fact is that with the vastness of the profession, not everything can be taught in our four-year education. It is the duty of a healthcare professional to be up to date in their fields and pursue continuing education. And when’s a better time to start CE than during school?

Did I mention this conference and all of its CE lectures were free to attend for all dental students? Mark your calendars for the next PNDC happening May 28-30th, 2020 and take a Friday “off”!

Thank you to the Washington State Dental Association for sponsoring and putting on such an amazing event!

About the Author: Ali Shareef

Ali is a 3rd year dental student who is one of the best artists and film directors at UW. He has filmed all of 2021’s hilarious class videos and is ASDA’s former Fundraising Chair!


Featured Research Project Experience

As a second year, I had the chance to participate in research for the very first time as part of SURF. Sure, it wasn’t easy and the days spent in lab with extracted teeth were not the same as those spent in the sun in the middle of summer, but I wanted to take my last chance at being a researcher before a lifetime of the provider role. In doing research in the field of operative dentistry, specifically cariology, I was able to understand the backdrop of dentistry— the fundamentals behind what we learned in op1. I learned the hard way why outline form matters and why sharp angles are not ideal, and I don’t think I’ll forget those any time soon. I learned that research is unpredictable but rewarding, and requires a TON of hard work but offers some super cool perks like going to the IADR meeting in Vancouver and meeting dentists, researchers, students and other tooth lovers from around the world.

About the Author: Nousha Panahpour Eslami

Nousha is a 3rd year dental student. She did her Summer Research Fellowship project with Dr. Sadr studying Silver Diamine Fluoride. A fun fact about Nousha is that she LOVES balloons. Here she is with all her balloons after accepting her award for her research project!

nousha balloonsm.jpg

International Association for Dental Research Conference 2019 - Vancouver

Elaha: I attended IADR as a oral presenter. It was amazing to see all the diverse topics of research. People from all over the world coming together to discuss innovative and new findings. Having an opportunity to attend as a student, really opened my eyes to the realm of research and its crucial role in the advancement of dentistry. I would highly recommend going to the conference at least one time to all students.

Kelsey: I never thought I would have the opportunity to attend a research conference. After participating in the Summer Research Fellowship (SURF) Program I was accepted to present at the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) Conference. Dentists and dental students all over the world are there to share their passion and work. I went not knowing what to expect but left inspired and appreciative all the work it takes to put into research. Dentistry is constantly involving and I am honored to have been a part of the process.

About the Authors: Elaha Bashizada (right), Kelsey Smith (left)

Elaha and Kelsey are 3rd year dental students who are former Summer Research Fellows who both competed in prestigious international competitions at IADR. Elaha’s research was titled “ Water Intake and Prevalence of Childhood Dental Caries.” Kelsey’s was “Does Cyclic Loading Improve Hypoplastic Sutures?”


Indulging My Nerdier Side

I have no doubt in the mind that I have always been the biggest “geek” of my friends.  Luckily these days being geeky is pretty mainstream.  Regardless, I definitely expect a less-than-positive reaction when I share one of my fun (fun for me, not so much for the financial analysts in my life) facts.  It’s usually a glazed look from the more polite of the group, and a groan or an eye roll from my more direct friends.

Dental school brought tons of changes.  A few negatives, like spending 12 hours a day on campus or only experiencing the recent summer weather through the windows in D1, but many more positives.  One positive I had not expected was that I suddenly had over 60 people in my life who were just as nerdy and passionate as I was.  This applied to real-life applications of a biochemistry course I was taking and to interesting bits of trivia I picked up from NASA’s website, a podcast, or reddit.  For almost every podcast I listened to, there was either someone to talk about it with or someone to recommend one just like it.  It was the first time I was able to really indulge the part of myself that loved to learn even when I didn’t have to. 

I may still be one of the only people I know who spends free time reading random space facts, and I may still get a few eye rolls depending on which fun fact I share (they’re not all winners).  But the majority of the time, having friends who get equally as excited as I do about those facts or who will even throw another bit of information back at me in response is something I feel incredibly lucky to have. 

Meet the Author: Sophie Cohanim

Sophie is a 2nd year dental student and the ASDA Wellness Coordinator. She loves dogs and is a craniofacial dental researcher! Her next research project is this summer as a Summer Research Fellow.


Why I Love Podcasts

I am obsessed with podcasts. My love for podcasts began last year sometime when my boyfriend Alex wouldn’t stop bugging me about listening to a podcast he liked (probably Bill Simmons or something sports related) and thought I might like it, too. Anyway, he kept bugging me and then said maybe I’d like to listen to something about pop culture instead so he suggested I listen to Anna Faris’ podcast Unqualified. I hate to admit it but he was right—I was totally hooked. With Unqualified in particular, every new episode I listened to I felt like I was getting some kind of E! News exclusive peek inside the lives of celebrities who, in my mind, are mystical people I see in magazines or on TV. I seriously felt like a high schooler getting away with sneaking liquor from my parents liquor cabinet. It was too good to be true! For an hour I was getting to hang out, laugh, and shoot the shit with people like Mila Kunis, Jonathan Van Ness, Michelle Obama etc. Unqualified became the gateway to this new world with so options of podcasts to explore and listen to! I was/am absolutely addicted and the best part is no matter what activity I’m doing i.e. walking to the store, riding the bus, folding my laundry, podcasts transform that activity it into an instant hang out session.

At this point you’re thinking, what the heck does this have to do with dentistry? It doesn’t really, except that it kind of does—that is, for me anyway. With second year coming to a close, I think back on the challenges I faced on my journey from first year to where I am now. As I reflect on how I survived, I can remember multiple times throughout the day I just (seriously) could. not. even. As many of you know and have experienced, the first two years of school you’re with your classmates all day every day which is more time than you even spend with your significant others or family! So if I’m being honest, when you’re being thrown information left and right and you’re constantly studying for the next quiz or exam, and you’re stuck in a classroom all day with very smart type A people, let’s just say it can be a lot. So it’s nice if you’re able to break up the day and have a quick escape to catch your breath and mentally reset. Podcasts are that quick relief that takes you out of your stress if just for an hour. So for me, classes like operative became one of my favorites not just because I enjoyed it, but because I knew I could plug in, drill, and tune everyone else out while I hung out with whoever was the guest on my favorite podcast that week. Every time I struggled through prepping crowns for a bridge or I was trying not to chuck my dentures across the room because the occlusion kept changing, I was able to get through the stress because I had Conan O’Brien in my ear doing a bit about his assistant Sona calling to yell at Verizon, or Mallory and Jason from Binge Mode making the most hilariously inappropriate Harry Potter jokes (Slytherin and Chamber of Secrets, enough said).

I think what makes podcasts so special is that in this (relatively) new format, you get to delve deep and explore topics and ideas that are often cut short in a Late Night interview or YouTube clip. We’re so into that instant gratification that being able to explore a thought and feel like you’re making genuine connections is so refreshing. As we know dental school is tough and trying and really pushes you to limits you didn’t know existed and to me podcasts have brought very needed joy in these first two incredibly difficult years of school. Whether walking the halls of Hogwarts on Binge Mode or getting Unqualified relationship advice from Anna Faris, podcasts have a way of making the chaos of everyday a little more fun.

 Meet the Author:

Karol Ludena is a 2nd year dental student who is very involved in UW’s Hispanic Student Dental Association and volunteering in the community. She loves rap music and corgis.


Cerec Bootcamp Thoughts

From James Son: “This past weekend, I had to the opportunity to spend a Saturday working with a CEREC CAD/CAM machine thanks to PDS and ASDA.  I learned that one of the most common mistake in crown prepping before scanning is under reducing occlusally.  This is due to the lack of thickness in the material when designing the crown. What’s awesome is that the software will show you where you are under reduced and makes it easier for you to correct the height! Scanning took less time than taking a PVS impression. Once finished, send the design to the wet milling machine and in about 7 minute, your crown will be completed!  I’m excited to add the CEREC CAD/CAM machine into my tool box to use in future practice. “

From Jake Ericksen: “Our education at the University of Washington School of Dentistry is rather traditional - we take impressions, do wax-ups, and do not do any in-house milling. While I understand the importance of learning these skills, I also see the benefits of incorporating CAD/CAM technology into practice. It makes even more sense when you consider the fact that most dental students nowadays grew up with access to the internet most of their lives. The CEREC Bootcamp was a great opportunity to learn more about CAD/CAM technology. Over the course of the session we were taught all of the following: prep design, material choice, 3D scanning, 3D restoration design, milling, staining, and firing. Not only was the session informative, but it was also a lot of fun! Overall I am very pleased with my experience, and I look forward to using this technology in practice later down the road!”

About the Authors:

James (right) and Jake (left) are 2nd year students who are passionate about digital dentistry and advancing our field!


Mika's Table

Hi I’m Mika, and I like to cook.  Getting used to dental school can be overwhelming, but It’s important to practice self care by setting aside time for yourself. Some of my classmates like to go to the gym, do yoga, and play intramural sports.  My way of relieving stress amidst the chaos of dental school is through cooking. I don’t shop at fancy grocery stores or cook with a lot of ingredients; it just feels good to unwind with a nice meal after a long and stressful day.

Cooking is relaxing because you get to come home, turn on your favorite music, and appreciate some “me” time.  It’s a refreshing change from being in school mode. You are so caught up in achieving the right flavors, texture, and temperature of what you’re making that you forget about the quiz you bombed earlier that day or forget how nervous you are for tomorrow’s practical.  

Cooking is also a creative practice where you can visualize the end result and make up your own method of achieving it. In a sense, this is similar to dentistry because you envision the end goal of your patient’s treatment plan and think of the different options that’ll get you there. Either way, you carry out each step at your own rhythm, use the tools you’re most comfortable with, and do what you love!



Meet the author: Mika Matsumoto

Mika is a D2 from Honolulu Hawaii. She’s one of the fastest workers and always helps her classmates!


3 Fears in Modern Day Leadership

During my college career, I was involved in the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) as both a member and a leader. Throughout my time there, I had grown immensely as a leader through both observation of others and executing what I learned into action. Much of what I learned is applicable to any leader, but my own (sort of) unique experience as an Asian American leader has added another layer of complexity. Below are 3 fears that I and many leaders often struggle with.

#1: Fear of Innovation

Leaders fear the unknown, avoid uncertainty, and their organizations suffer as a result. We often repeat events, taking the safe route to ensure that nothing goes wrong. Failure to innovate makes our events stale and growth stagnates. We become complacent, lose our member base, our community influence, and then wonder where it all went wrong.

With the Asian clubs, I often wonder if our fears carry over from our heritage. I am not speaking for all Asian Americans, but most would agree that as Asian Americans, the children of immigrants, we push ourselves to fulfill our parents’ wishes to perfect educational success. Our families sacrifice a lot for us to be here, and subconsciously, we feel that failure is unacceptable. I am sure my experience is not unique and is not just limited to Asian-Americans either. I believe this mindset seeps into our everyday lives and can negatively impact our leadership abilities. It took me a long time to be comfortable messing up, but I realized that failure is the ONLY way to grow. As a VSA leader, I actively encouraged my team to try “throwing things at the wall” and refining them so that they eventually stuck. I always told myself that our team culture is that “we have no culture;” that we are always willing to try new things.

#2: Fear of Conflict

How often has someone told you that your club is “cliquey?” What have you done to address this issue? Did you actually address the issue or did you again take the safe route and ignore this complaint? Have any of your officers brought concerns about the team dynamic to you? Did you deal with the issue immediately and fairly, or brush it under the rug, allowing these problems to fester and negatively impact your team?

The fear of conflict is poisonous for any team. It kinda sounds counterintuitive right? You might think that avoiding conflict is best for the team and while that might be true in the short term, addressing the issue with all parties is best long term. I’ve seen teams try to push this conversation to “a later time,” only to have it completely blow up in their faces (usually right before a big event since everyone is stressed x1000). No one should ENJOY conflict, but it’s important to understand that conflict is a vital component to building a strong team.

Bringing it back to an Asian-American perspective, communication is an issue even at home. I was never able to talk to my parents about issues due to a generational, cultural, and language barrier. I found it difficult to even try “bothering” my parents after they both had come home from an extremely long day at work. In Asian cultures, they believe in showing their love rather than saying it. Our emotional struggles seem menial compared to that, and maybe that mindset also seeps into our leadership styles.

#3: Fear of True Accountability

I’ve only met a few leaders who know how to properly apologize. It’s difficult to do and is still something I’m working on myself, but it is crucial to maintaining a healthy team dynamic. The difference between “I’m sorry you feel that way,” VS “I’m sorry I did that to you, I won’t do it again” is astronomical, yet is only one of many examples where a leader subconsciously avoids taking responsibility for their actions.

But why is it so hard for us to apologize? Once again, this might be a manifestation of the subconscious pressures we put on ourselves to always be perfect. Many view apologies as a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity to grow. In my past, as someone who rarely apologized, always thought that others knew I wasn’t malicious and that I could make it up through action, but I’ve learned that even a simple apology can mean a lot. Nothing is WORSE than working with someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their shortcomings, especially when they’re quick to jump on others for their mistakes. Apologizing helps set the tone that the team is… a team and not a boss with their workers.

What’s Next?

To my fellow growing leaders, I hope you were able to find my advice relatable in one aspect or another. I challenge you to change your mind set on failure, to take hold of your ambitions as well as your greatest fears. I challenge you to venture into the unknown by bringing new ideas to the table, so that your impact lingers beyond your years. Ask yourself, at what point do I stop going through the motions of my predecessors and make this organization my own? The best thing anyone can do for their organization is to leave behind an even more ambitious successor. What better way to do this than by example?

To my fellow Asian American leaders, be aware of how your background can impact your leadership abilities and be open to addressing these issues in yourself. Our parents took the biggest risks by coming to a country where they don’t speak the native language; they are the true leaders that we must emulate. Taking risks is in our blood - we only need to look beyond our pressures in order to seize it.


About the Writer - Johnny Le


Johnny Le is currently a second year dental student who participated in various leadership organizations in undergrad. He is the current Pre-Dental chair for UW ASDA.

Leading Leaders

John Maxwell defines a leader as an individual who blends extreme personal ability with intense professional will. He says that, “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.”

My classmates chose to elect me as a leader in our first year of dental school. I gained the privilege to serve as class president for the remainder of our education at the UWSOD. One of the largest challenges my position presents is being a leader of leaders. Dentists and dental students are natural leaders and commonly exude confidence. We work extremely hard to get into school and have so much personal drive that it creates a strange paradigm when you put 72 of us into a room together. Everyone thinks they know what is best and everyone has an opinion. Being placed into this situation has given me many opportunities to grow. I quickly learned at the beginning of the year that I had plenty of strengths, but also many weaknesses.

I find that one of the best ways to lead a group of leaders is to often assume the role as a follower. However, this strategy is dangerous because assuming that role for too long can lead to too much conversation about what steps to take next or what ideas to implement. I have learned to find a good balance between leading and following. I am learning that a leader should be in control but not be overbearing.

A leader, imperatively, must be humble above all else. Ego and pride will only get in your way when trying to lead. If you think you always have the best idea then you will never get to hear the “million dollar” idea from your team. If you are always outspoken and boastful, then you will never hear the wisdom waiting to come from your soft-spoken classmate. Take a step back and realize that you do not have all the answers. Act when needed, but do not be afraid to look to others for help.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the ASDA District 10 Leadership Conference, where we talked about how a good leader looks through a window to give credit but into a mirror to place blame. This concept is in the forefront of every good leader’s mind but is something that I have struggled with in the past. It is easy to blame your team when things do not work out. But in the end, your team looks to you as their leader and without a good influence from you the team is doomed to failure.

In order to keep your team from failing, you must be a great leader. To achieve great leadership, you must first be competent enough to lead yourself. Commit yourself to a higher standard and be honest about your shortcomings. Do your best every day and always continue to educate yourself. Find a mentor who can speak into your life about your leadership and make sure they are comfortable being honest with you. Sometimes the truth hurts but it is necessary to promote personal growth. Recognize that nobody is perfect but strive to be anyway. Proceed as if success is inevitable.

Applying these ideas and principles has enabled me to follow the path to becoming a great leader. I am thankful that serving as class president has presented me with so many opportunities for growth. I am thankful that my classmates have shown patience when I fall short and helped by offering me advice on how to grow further. I am thankful for the faculty and staff who have spoken into my life during my time at the UWSOD and I look forward to finishing the second half of my education.

We should all be striving to become great leaders while in dental school. As future dentists, we will need to lead our staff and our patients – this influence will make or break our businesses. It is important to be practicing leadership now to set yourself up for a successful future.


About the Writer - Micah Bovenkamp





Micah is a current third year student in the class of 2020 at the UWSOD. He serves as Class President and represents his class on Student Council. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, playing frisbee, and finding great places to eat in Seattle.


Fit 'n Flossy

It started with…

A little into my encounter with fitness and how it became part of my life.

For the majority of us in dental school, we have been living and breathing academics for most of our lives and the ambition to pursue more has become engrained in us. I grew up with the mentality of putting in my 110% into anything I set my mind to, and it taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance. Blah blah blah. Haven’t we all heard about that since our parents first sat down with us at the table to help us with our homework? I don’t mean to dilute this life lesson because I mean, it paid off. I worked hard, got into college, then dental school. In my mind I was an all-star academic athlete! (HUGE nerd alert)


It wasn’t until I entered college when fitness became a big part of my life because at the end of my freshman year, you guessed it… I had gained the infamous freshman fifteen. This was the first time I felt what it was like to “listen to your body.” Not only had I gained a couple more soft spots, I was lethargic, irritable, and emotionally drained all the time and blamed it on the stress of school. I had to make a change to my lifestyle in order to feel better and enjoy life more, and luckily found exercise as my outlet. While I had a lot of practice pushing my body mentally, pushing my body physically was something I was not used to doing and something I didn’t realize had so much overlap. It frustrated me at the beginning but when I began to see results in my body and how it translated into my lifestyle, I realized I created a powerful mind–body connection that I could control. Working out was a way for me to channel my stress and anxiety from school into something that could produce positive tangible results. Overcoming a physical challenge prepared me to face academic challenges in school with a fresh perspective.


As I entered dental school, I kept fitness as a priority because it is how I choose to “self-care.” We all go through the same challenges and frustrations in dental school each year, but to me, the important thing is how we choose to face those challenges. Fitness has been an outlet for me to direct my frustrations with dental school, but it has also taught me to view these obstacles as learning experiences and opportunities for growth. While my passion for dentistry is what drives me to work hard and become the best provider for my patients, I do not want my career to solely define who I am. Rather, I want to work so I can live, and live an abundant and diverse life that keeps me growing and learning in all aspects. Fitness has challenged me to find lessons and growth in other things in life outside of academics and has made me realize I am capable of a lot more.


About the Writer - Jessie Zou





Jessie is currently a D3 student and candidate with the class of 2020. When not in clinic, she enjoys going to concerts and trying new places to eat.

Instagram: @fitnflossy - check it out!

Welcome to UW ASDA's Blog!

Hello, and welcome to the start of the University of Washington’s American Student Dental Association Blog (aka Dawgs of UWSOD)! As our spring quarter morphs into a hectic beast, we want to make sure you dental-minded individuals are familiar with this new blog.

Our goal of the blog is to grant the opportunity to learn more about our classmates and share unique stories with one another. We hope to inspire dental students, prospective dental students, and other individuals reading this, as well as share with our community UWSOD's diversity and highlight our accomplishments.

Moreover, please check out our new website! It’s filled with fun events that ASDA members have been a part of and future events that we have scheduled. Plus, you can join ASDA and receive numerous benefits! 

We will update our blog multiple times throughout the week.

If you would like to be featured and write for our fabulous blog, please email Claire Mills at millscb@uw.edu


About the Writer James Son

james son.JPG



James is currently a D1 student and part of the cohort class of 2021. When he is not studying, he enjoys playing with his dog, BB-8. In the near future, he wants to open a private practice and provide for his community.