ASDA National Conference allows students to connect and learn from one another

Group photo at ASDA conference.

Learners in the School of Dentistry’s chapter of the American Student Dental Association attended the 2023 National Leadership Conference in Chicago in October.

The conference brings together students from across the United States to network, gain continuing education, explore technology and learn from speakers and one another. Sixteen dental students from the School of Dentistry attended this conference.

Students holding up M at ASDA conference.

For MN ASDA President Annmarie Schmid, DDS ’25, the conference is “an exciting opportunity to network with students from other schools, learn and grow new skills that will make us better leaders and future clinicians.”

Attending the conference with 700 of her fellow dental students from across the country, Schmid appreciated the opportunity to get to know other students, meet industry representatives and undertake continuing education opportunities.

Each day of the conference began with a general session, followed by breakout continuing education sessions on topics like patient communication, treatment planning, finance and preparing for residency. The conference also included a vendor fair, a technology expo and social events. “We had a lot of fun connecting with other dental students at these events, as well as spending time together as a group of students from the School of Dentistry,” she said.

Presentation at ASDA conference.

Bill Keute, DDS ’26, decided to get involved with ASDA because of the great things he had heard about the conferences in years past. As a member of the executive council, he was excited to see the conference for himself—and it certainly lived up to his expectations.

“The group of people from the school who went were so great to get to know, and the talks at the conference did a good job of connecting our current experience to opportunities in the dental field in the future,” he said. “Many of the seminars were useful for current students and future applications. There were great opportunities to meet people from other  dental schools, and the chance to get to know my classmates, network with other students and learn about dentistry was beyond my expectations.”

Jacob Pokriefka, DDS ’27, knew the connections he would make with ASDA would impact him for many years to come—and the conference was a perfect example of that. Pokriefka enjoyed learning new things, while also connecting with other students.

“It was organized in a way that allowed attendees to learn what was most important to them while being engaging,” he said. “It allowed us to meet each other and create bonds that will not be broken.”

Pokriefka called the perspective he learned from keynote speakers “priceless,” saying that it “prepared students in a way that we could look toward the future with a better understanding of what to expect.”

But what stuck out most to the attendees was the opportunity to make connections and create bonds within and beyond the school.

“I think the connections I have made with other students by attending this conference are incredibly meaningful,” Schmid said. “I have met students and made friends with people from all across the United States at these conferences, and it is exciting to have such a great network in dentistry as a result.”

Pokriefka agreed. “The most meaningful aspect of the conference was the teamwork and camaraderie it created,” he said. “It allowed us to learn about other schools and how they educate their students and approach problems. This helped us understand differences in treatment and perspectives toward different aspects in dentistry. Overall, the conference was an incredibly informative experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”

Guests at ASDA group photo.