Hometown: Ukiah, CA
Career Plans: Among many goals, heading to the public health side of dentistry and making a difference in the profession.
I really love the people here at the Dugoni School. Everyone is so friendly and there’s always someone checking in on you to make sure you’re doing well both academically and emotionally.
"The American Student Dental Association (ASDA)"
Without any hesitation, that was how Anthoula Vlachos, DDS Class of 2021, responded to the question "Why choose dentistry?" While an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she attended an ASDA National Leadership Conference and immediately fell in love with the organization.
"The conference was three days of non-stop learning about the profession of dentistry and how it interacts with Congress and local government," recalls Anthoula. "I didn't know dentistry could be that cool."
What really drew her to dentistry was how receptive the profession is to change. During these conferences, Anthoula participated and engaged in networking strategies for passing congressional resolutions that would be crucial for positive social change in dentistry. She realized that she could make an impact on dental healthcare in her community and nationally.
During her time as the president of the UC Santa Cruz Pre-Dental Society, she established the Community Education Outreach Committee because she wanted to inspire children about the joys of healthy mouths. Anthoula customized a life-size Jeopardy-style game board with oral care-related topics and saw the children's enthusiasm in response to her efforts. This sparked her passion for working in the community and for developing new oral health educational materials in dentistry.
Anthoula's early involvement with organized dentistry and community outreach led her to focus on finding a dental school that had leadership opportunities for students to make a difference locally and more widely as well.
"I actually met a lot of Dugoni School students during the ASDA conferences," says Anthoula. "And what I noticed was that every student from here had a bigger vision for dentistry. They wanted to be more than the 9-5 dentist; they had the passion for making change happen."
Now in her first year at the Dugoni School and class Vice President, Anthoula remains a committed member of the organization that led her to dentistry. She is currently the ASDA representative for her class and will be serving as the Dugoni School's ASDA President next year. She also plans to apply for a position on the California District level of ASDA or another leadership position within National ASDA. "I want to be involved because I like being part of a team that has a vision that can impact so many people," says Anthoula. She also plans to attend either the Jamaica or Mexico mission trips to provide dental care in underserved areas.
Anthoula hopes to continue her involvement in organized dentistry after graduation. She would love to open her own practice, but also travel the country giving talks for continuing education or playing a role in organizations such as the California Dental Association. "I love to travel so being able to do that while still being involved with dentistry would be amazing," says Anthoula.