Kamal J. Smith, DDS Candidate 2023, was named national president-elect of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA) during SNDA’s 49th Annual National Convention.
“I am not surprised by the announcement that Kamal Smith has won a national election. Through his work with the UNC chapter as SNDA treasurer, I have witnessed that he effortlessly embodies those qualities of a great leader,” said Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Equity Initiatives and SNDA faculty advisor, Sylvia Frazier-Bowers, DDS, PhD.
Smith will work in coordination with the incoming SNDA President, Reina Ransom, a rising fourth-year dental student at the Adams School of Dentistry, to implement her strategic plan. After her term as president-elect in the 2021-22 school year, Smith will serve as the 2022-23 president of the national organization.
“Kamal works tirelessly for a just cause that is inclusive, service oriented, and thoughtful. This was exemplified when he stepped up to be the voice of positive change in the school last year as our nation and campus grappled with social justice movements,” said Frazier-Bowers. “It is certain that the evolution of his leadership will be impactful and memorable, and it is fortuitous that UNC Adams School of Dentistry has cultivated back-to-back national leaders in both Kamal and Reina.”
For the last three years, Smith has been an active member of the school’s SNDA chapter, where he serves as treasurer, in addition to serving on the regional level as an SNDA regional coordinator. Smith note that his experiences as a member of SNDA have been invaluable to this point, and expressed his excitement to lead on the national level.
“It’s an honor to have been selected by my peers nationwide to carry the torch of working towards making the dental field an even better place for all people,” said Smith. “We’re living in a historic time, so it’s our responsibility to take full advantage of each opportunity so that our peers, patients, and future dentists can enter a field that is even more optimally designed to serve their best interests.”
Smith served as co-chair of the Impressions Program within the school’s chapter for the past two years. He was an integral part in helping build the program to host more than 150 pre-dental participants this past year – a record number of participants in the chapter’s history of hosting the event.
Working closely with his co-chair and impressions program committee, he successfully executed his vision to transform this event from a single day event to a week-long series of programming designed to expose underrepresented pre-dental students to a career in dentistry.
“Two of the core reasons why I entered the field of dentistry were to help address oral health care disparities and increase opportunities for aspiring dentists. I am fully aware that representation among providers has a direct correlation to addressing critical oral health care needs,” said Smith.
The chapter has continued to grow and flourish with Smith as a member of the executive board. Specifically, the chapter had the most members in recent history this past year and placed second overall for SNDA At-Large Chapter of the Year for the past two years.
“This appointment will allow me to work alongside other talented individuals with common goals of increasing educational opportunities and access to quality care. As president-elect, I work closely with our national executive team to ensure that our strategic vision comes to fruition,” said Smith.
“Some of our core initiatives include fostering mentorship opportunities between SNDA and the NDA, implementing programming to increase the presence of underrepresented minorities in dental programs across the nation, and creating impactful learning spaces designed for the personal and professional growth of our members. In addition, I will be constructing my strategic plan for the 2022-23 academic year.”
For nearly 50 years, the longstanding goal of the Student National Dental Association has been to promote, aid and support the academic and social environment of minority students. SNDA strives to establish opportunities for its members to develop stronger alliances amongst one another while developing a sense of community. Ultimately, the organization aims to aid in the advancement of minority students within the field of dentistry.