Dugoni School Establishes New Chapter of Student National Dental Association

November 17, 2016

Student National Dental Association

Chapter leaders give an overview of SNDA at a recent Brown Bag lunch with the Dean.

The Associated Student Body at University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently approved the formation of a new student chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA). The goal of the organization is to promote and support the academic and social environment of minority students. It strives to create opportunities for its members to develop stronger alliances amongst one another, with the goal of making advancements for students in the field of dentistry.

The founders of the Dugoni School's chapter, Jennifer Villalta, DDS Class of 2017, and Ashley Soliman, DDS Class 2018, hope to promote the goal of the SNDA at the dental school. In addition to promoting the advancement of minority students in the field of dentistry, the SNDA provides oral hygiene education through various outreach efforts in minority and underserved communities. Being able to work with individuals from different backgrounds will allow students to become culturally competent practitioners. As the health care gap continues, the need for diversity in health care professions has become increasingly important.

The student leadership of the new chapter includes Jennifer Villalta, President; Ashley Soliman, Vice President; Garik Oganesian, Secretary; William Keeton, Educational Chair; Kristoff Samm, Treasurer; Samantha Balasubramanian, Community Service Co-Chair, Juan Ramirez, Community Service Co-Chairs and Spanish Club Director; Melyssa Astorga, Historian; and Al Bunaiang, Delegate.

Jennifer Villalta and Ashley Soliman recently attended the SNDA national convention in Atlanta where they met with leaders from other SNDA chapters and learned more about the mission and goals of the organization.

"I was very fortunate to be a participant at ADEA's Student Diversity Leadership Conference, where I was able to learn and understand more about the disparities in diversity in the field of dentistry and why it is imperative to promote diversity," said Villalta. "I was surprised that only 16 percent of dental students in the U.S. are of underrepresented minority (URM) backgrounds. It is imperative that we promote cultural competency and help recruit qualified students who are from URM backgrounds who may not be aware that a career in dentistry is an option. SNDA's goal is to promote, aid and support the academic and social environment of minority students. Thanks to support from Dean Nadershahi, Dr. Fredekind, and Dr. Hayashida, we have started this chapter in the hopes of increasing diversity at the Dugoni School."

To learn more about SNDA, visit http://www.sndanet.org.