The Hispanic Student Dental Association recently hosted the Student Regional event at UNC Adams School of Dentistry. A team of students coordinated and organized the event, and its success exceeded their expectations. Student liaison and organizer Sylvette Ramos-Diaz, DDS ‘24, said they had expected around 200 attendees and had registrations for 248.
ASOD’s Renie Daniel, MD, DMD, and faculty adviser to the UNC HSDA, served as the keynote speaker. She told attendees to “focus on your why” when pursuing a degree in oral health care. In addition, there were several concurrent breakout sessions, including topics such as life as a Latinx doctor, money management, orofacial pain and sleep medicine, forensic odontology, and incorporating child and maternal oral health into the dental practice.
The event also targeted future students, and pre-dental students got to participate in hands-on activities and learned more about applying to dental school.
“This was my chance to create opportunities for those who come after me, so I chose to have
some of our UNC HSDA student leaders offer 19 pre-dents a hands-on session in the sim lab and an admissions info session with Lamont Lowery, assistant dean of student recruitment and engagement,” Ramos-Diaz said.
Faculty development was also on the agenda during the event, and the HSDA Foundation hosted the session for faculty advisers, who attended alongside their students. Ramos-Diaz, in tandem with ASOD Dean Janet Guthmiller, were able to coordinate the attendance of a Hispanic student and their adviser from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry.
“[The student] Gisselle is basically one of the only Hispanics at her school, and she has worked very hard to build representation for Hispanics in Nebraska,” Ramos-Diaz said.
The event also supported Hispanic culture and businesses, and catering was provided by Alpaca. Annie Velez and DJ Kemo led a salsa dance class, and each attendee posed with their family’s flag to help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
“As Hispanics, music and dancing are part of our culture, but our culture was not really incorporated into the previous three HDA student regionals I attended,” said Ramos-Diaz. “One of my student mentees told me he felt connected to his culture, and that he had a blast! That meant a lot to me; it is people like him with really big hearts and a desire to serve others that motivated me to go the extra mile and ensure we weren’t just represented but celebrated!”