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Reflections From a Minority Dental Student on ADEA SDLP and ADEA Internships

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Ambika HeadshotThe ADEA Student Diversity Leadership Program (ADEA SDLP) was launched during the 2014 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition. The program provides students from diverse backgrounds, and those with an interest in issues related to diverse communities, the tools to identify appropriate professional mentors, embark and build on their leadership styles, gain tools for being successful in dental school and network with one another to build the foundations of a dental student partnership. Ambika Srivastava, M.P.H., is a second-year dental student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry. She participated in a 2017 ADEA Student Diversity Leadership Program Intern and shares her experiences.

Impact of the ADEA Student Diversity Leadership Program (SDLP)
Finishing up my first year of dental school left me feeling like I had accomplished the world. The first and only free summer I would have in dental school held special value to me. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do. When I saw the application for the ADEA SDLP Internship, I was drawn to the program.

I thought back to my experience that I had while attending the ADEA SDLP. We started the two-day session with introductions and ice-breakers. Although this seemed like a norm, I found it intriguing to learn who was from where. There were so many different people in the room, representing not only their ethnicity but also their school, city, district, etc. I quickly realized that diversity wasn’t only in the racial aspect, but there was so much more to each person; they all came with a story as to how they were in this room. 

As we were learning about one another, little did I realize that we were going to be learning more about ourselves. One of the activities we did was to sketch an outline of our hand and then write our strengths and weaknesses. Of course, writing a strength was easy; however, understanding my weakness and seeing how others in the room had the same one was different. We concluded the first day with dinner plans and a renewed excitement to see each other the next day.

The next morning, we all sat with different people whom we had not met before. After introductions, we quickly started talking about the various current issues that the public, and specifically dental students, are facing. Being a little timid, it was nice to hear from other students during the open floor that they also felt the same way. 

The aspect that I appreciated the most about this program was that not only did we identify the problems but together we also came up with solutions. These were all plausible solutions that each student could go back to school and apply to better his or her community. 

On Being an ADEA Intern
As the application [ADEA Internship] was open in front of me, I thought about these experiences and the unbreakable friendships I had created. I instantly knew that I wanted to spend my summer as an intern with ADEA.

After being accepted as the intern, I came to Washington, DC to work in the ADEA Headquarters. Being from a small town in Mississippi and not living in a large city, it was an amazing experience. I felt like I grew as a person as well as intellectually. As a student, I feel like I had on blinders only looking at classes from a student perspective. While working with others in ADEA, I realized the other aspects that go into a course or within each school. I also realized that I may potentially want to pursue academia in the future after dental school. Most of all, I believe this internship gave me the opportunity to ensure that the future dental students all have the opportunity of being part of ADEA SDLP as well as ensuring that the alumni of this program remain engaged. Through this program, we can create a community that ensures that Vision 2030 is achieved starting today. 

Submitted by Ambika Srivastava, M.P.H., second-year dental student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry, 2017 ADEA Student Diversity Leadership Program Intern

Published on January 10, 2018

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