SNDA chapter and members win national awards

January 9th, 2023

The Student National Dental Association at Texas A&M School of Dentistry was recognized as one of the best chapters in the nation for 2022.

The chapter was awarded second place Medium Chapter of the Year at SNDA’s 50th anniversary celebration and annual conference in July 2022. President Madison Jenkins, a third-year dental student, along with seven other SNDA members attended the conference in Orlando, Florida, and said the recognition was a great honor.

Texas A&M School of Dentistry SNDA members accepted a national award on behalf of their chapter at SNDA’s annual conference in July 2022. Pictured (from left) are Regina George (D2), Joyce Akinnibosun (D2), Ashley Onwu (D3), Baseme Osuamkpe (D4), Stephanie Onyeka (D4), Madison Jenkins (D3), Jamila Mwangi (D2) and Serena Brown (D2).

“The conference was an incredible experience for our membership,” Jenkins said. “We attended presentations and were able to fellowship with other like-minded individuals and network with general practitioners and specialists who look like us, and the award made the experience even more special.”

SNDA is a student organization of the National Dental Association, which works to improve the delivery of oral health care in underserved communities and improve the educational opportunities of minorities underrepresented in the oral health field.

The SNDA Chapter of the Year competition is based on how successful each chapter is in fundraising, programming and performing community service. Jenkins said highlights of their service include Impressions Day and Turn That Crown Upside Down. On Impressions Day, pre-dental students are invited to campus for hands-on activities, seminars and a campus tour. Turn That Crown Upside Down is a mentorship in which upperclassmen help D2 students prepare for their first crown prep practical. The group also volunteers with the Oak Cliff Veggie Project, a community coalition increasing access to fresh vegetables and healthy food in Dallas.

SNDA adviser Dr. Reginald Taylor said the students involved in the A&M chapter of SNDA are outstanding individuals.

“Second place is an outstanding achievement,” he said. “It takes considerable and sustained effort for students, especially dental students to envision, organize and stage the educational, social and service activities for which they were recognized by a national award.”

Impressions Day chair and president-elect Serena Brown said attending SNDA’s 50th anniversary conference was an “amazing experience.”

“Being able to network with other dental students and dental professionals around the country opened my eyes to all that dentistry has to offer,” she said. “Furthermore, it was rewarding to see our field outside of the classroom and clinic. I feel empowered now more than ever to continue on the path of increasing representation in the field of dentistry.”

D2 representative and president elect Joyce Akinnibosun echoed Brown’s sentiments.

“Going to this conference was nothing short of remarkable,” she said. “I’m thankful to have been a part of the experience. Being around doctors and other students who look like me, have been on similar walks of life, and share similar stories isn’t something I get every day — reminding me of the importance of representation.

“During my time there, I was able to network, meet new people and learn about various aspects of the career and business,” Akinnibosun continued. “School gets so rough, and sometimes discouraging, that one can easily forget the fulfillment and sense of community dentistry can bring, along with the endless possibilities that are out there on the other side of it. Attending this conference helped reignite the fire to keep going even when I feel burned out.”

Fourth-year dental students Stepahnie Onyeka and Baseme Osuamkpe accept their award from the Dental Shark Tank judges.

In addition to being recognized as one of the top chapters in the nation, individual students also won awards at the summer conference. Fourth-year dental students Stephanie Onyeka and Baseme Osuamkpe won third place in Dental Shark Tank for their invention, Bling Fling, which is removable dental jewelry caps that provide a trendy look without expensive customization.

In the fall, Jenkins, Brown, Akinnibosun and Michael Opoku were awarded the NDA Achievement Scholarship.

As the students plan for 2023, Jenkins said they are excited to continue one of their new initiatives, the CORE (Community, Outreach, Responsibility and Empowerment) clinic at the Family Place Shelter in Dallas.

“Essentially, it was created to increase access to oral healthcare for at-risk families,” Jenkins said. “We’ve only gone twice so far, but we’re hoping in the spring to start going twice a month to provide treatments such as screenings, cleanings, fillings and simple extractions.”

To learn more about SNDA at Texas A&M School of Dentistry, follow them on Instagram: @tamcod_snda.

— Kristen Tribe