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Pacific Dugoni students, faculty and alumni joined more than 1,700 volunteers to provide $1.66 million in charitable dental services during CDA Cares at Pomona on November 21-22, 2014. The CDA Foundation and CDA host the event to provide dental services and oral health education at no charge to Californians who experience barriers to care. Dentists and dental professionals provided fillings, extractions, cleanings, oral health education, and full and partial dentures to 1,861 people during the two-day event.

Pacific Dugoni students at CDA Cares Pomona.
Pacific Dugoni students at CDA Cares Pomona.

A few current Pacific Dugoni students shared reflections on their experiences volunteering at CDA Cares Pomona.

“We delivered a stay plate on #8 on one patient. She just had the extraction done and was not given pain medications. When we were trying on her stay plate, I could tell that she was in pain because she was trying to hold back the tears. Every time we asked how she was doing, she’d still say that she was fine. That was only one of the few patients I saw that day. Some of the patients drove from two hours away just to get care. Experiences like that remind me why I came to dental school. Nothing compares to the smile you see on people’s faces when they look at their new smile in the mirror. Dentistry, for me, is not just about having the best looking cavity preparation or getting A’s in all my classes. It is about providing service to those who are not fortunate enough to have the means to take care of themselves. One can do dentistry to make other people feel confident about themselves. I do dentistry because it makes me feel good, and it warms my heart when I see a patient smile again.”
- Jacqui Uy, DDS 2016

“Dentists working at CDA events are so open to teaching and patients coming in generously provide the opportunity to learn. I love how dynamic this event is because I can move between departments and assist any number of dentists. What strikes me is that most patients have a full-time job and are contributing members of society who just don’t have the means to take care of some basic dental needs. Patients are so grateful to be able to receive this great service, but they’ll never know how much I honestly cherish my experiences and encounters at CDA Cares.”
- Michelle Nguyen, DDS 2016

“It was my first time volunteering for CDA Cares, and now I know why thousands of volunteers wake up at 5 in the morning and spend their entire day helping out. I worked at the denture station for the majority of the time, and it brought me so much joy see to the look on the patients' faces when they glanced in the mirror and saw their new smiles for the first time. I spoke with patients who told me that they started lining up for this event at 3 in the morning. This shows me that there is a community who wants to improve their oral health, but truly lack the means to do so. All of the appreciative patients and generous volunteers have rejuvenated my passion for the career that we chose.”
- Sheynie Vo, DDS 2016


“I spent most of my time at CDA Cares Pomona working either in the triage area or guiding patients to the different stops for care. The very first group I took in the early morning said they had been in line since before 4:00 a.m. and were excited to get things started. I was so distracted talking with that first group about the event that I missed taking them to their first stop, routing, and had to backtrack to get them there. To me having that happen wasn't so bad, as talking with the people was what I love about CDA Cares. The people come from everywhere and every situation and at this event we do all we can to help them. In my time at this event I must have met and seen hundreds of people all in need of some form of help and this is an opportunity to provide some relief. To do that alongside so many other awesome volunteers makes it easy to say that I made the right decision to get involved.”
- Steve Truman, DDS 2016

“The best part about CDA Cares, for me, is always the patients. One patient needed to have 10 of her teeth extracted and was very nervous during the procedure. Half-way through I saw a tear fall down her cheek and asked her if she was feeling pain and she said she was crying cause she felt so embarrassed about the state of her mouth. I held her hand and told her that we were there to help bring back her smile. Taking a break from academics was just what I needed to refocus my energy. I had been to a few CDA Cares events before, but Pomona meant more to me because it was so close to home. Volunteering there, you could clearly see the need.”
- Rosemary Tran, DDS 2016


Student leaders from Pacific’s ASDA Chapter traveled to Chicago for the ASDA National Leadership Conference held on October 31 – November 2. They joined more than 500 dental students from across the country for a weekend of personal and professional development. Read their reflections on lessons from the conference, leadership in dentistry and why ASDA matters.

Pacific Dugoni ASDA representatives at the NLC Conference.
Pacific Dugoni ASDA representatives at the NLC Conference.

“This experience has reinforced the idea that ethics is the foundation on which dentistry stands. We must always remember that open communication and leading a fair business practice will allow us to be the successful business owner we all strive to be.”
 - Leesa Ching, DDS 2016, Webmaster Co-Chair

“We have the right to be our own business owner. Don't let someone tell you, ‘We can handle the business, and you focus on treating.’ Don't be afraid to take the risks, just learn from every decision you make.”
 - Veeraj Patel, DDS 2016, Treasurer

“I learned that there is a real need for ASDA and that I can have a voice when it comes to policy-making. It was interesting to know that I can help influence the state and rules of my profession.”
 - Deanna Lee, DDS 2016, Pre-Dental Co-Chair

‘“Listening intensely is a far more valuable skill than speaking immensely.’ This quote really struck a chord for me at NLC. Being a great leader isn’t about getting others to conform to your ideals; it’s about listening to your peers and gaining a better understanding of their needs so you can better serve them.”
 - Rosemary Tran, DDS 2016, Ideal ASDA Co-Chair

The students had the opportunity to explore Chicago and visit famous landmarks.
The students had the opportunity to explore Chicago and visit famous landmarks.

“After experiencing ASDA’s National Leadership Conference, I can attest to the level of professionalism and involvement we have here at Pacific. If we can incorporate the many aspects of organized dentistry we have learned to our practices here at Pacific, obtaining an “Ideal” ASDA will be within our grasps.”
 - Joey Meade, DDS 2016, Legislative Liaison

“Meeting people from different dental school made me realize there are many individuals who have a same goal in their minds: provide the best care for patients. I was able to gain positive energy from this event by interacting with many passionate and ambitious dental students.”
 - Jeong Yun, DDS 2016, Community Outreach Chair

“Advocacy isn't just important, it’s vital. Policy has the potential to support us as practitioners or detract from our profession as a whole – it’s really up to us to decide how that works. Optimism and unity are keys to help ensure the former. Voting is the motion.”
 - Richard Ly, DDS 2017, First Year Legislative Liaison

“The keynote speeches of each day were both eye-opening and inspiring. Researcher Vanessa Van Edwards’s speech, “Body Language for Dentists,” taught me how to apply non-verbal and body language in patient care, while nonprofit organization Pencils of Promise’s founder, Adam Braun, reminded me of the importance and possibility of bringing positive social changes as a dentist.”
 - Ruidan Ma, DDS 2017, Vice President

The Pacific ASDA team celebrates Halloween during the conference. We are TRON!
The Pacific ASDA team celebrates Halloween during the conference. We are TRON!

“One characteristic of a leader that I tend to overlook is the importance of being able to effectively praise and compliment my (well-deserving) teammates and colleagues when they complete a task well. This is a valuable trait as a leader because one can powerfully motivate others by giving genuine encouragement and showing appreciation for their hard work.”
 - Leeann Chu, DDS 2016, Webmaster Co-Chair 

“With graduation looming around the corner, NLC also provided a great source of information on what to expect and how to handle various situations after dental school, from budget-friendly marketing strategies to making business-savvy decisions.”
  - Kowthemi Murugapoopathy, IDS 2015, IDS Representative 

“A gathering of students who care about their profession is an awesome sight to behold. This past weekend has been a fun ride of meeting new friends, seeing old ones and listening to great speakers. It was a feast of learning how to improve oneself and Pacific. This was an event that I left energized to do better.”
 - Steve Truman, DDS 2016, Chapter President

making our mark

How do dentistry and politics intersect? The Pacific Dugoni Chapter of the Academy of General Dentistry recently invited alumnus Dr. Joel Strom ’79 to speak with the Pacific Dugoni dental community on how dentists have an opportunity to enhance their career through political involvement. Dr. Strom is a former California State Dental board president and president of Strom Political Strategies. After graduating from University of the Pacific’s School of Dentistry in 1979, he completed a National Institute of Health Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Human Nutrition at Columbia University. In addition to practicing general dentistry in the greater Los Angeles area, he has served as course director for ethics at USC’s School of Dentistry and as president of the Western Los Angeles Dental Society. Dr. Strom also founded Dentistry United for WWII Vets.

AGD Political Perspective photo

During his visit, Dr. Strom discussed points of intersection between dentistry and politics, and explained how he got involved in political issues while just starting out in his career. Issues such as malpractice rates, changes in healthcare laws, student loans and taxes all affect the lives of dental professionals. Dentists have specialized knowledge about the healthcare industry that puts them in the prime position to make a difference in their community by taking leadership roles at all levels of politics – including professional dental organizations.

At Pacific Dugoni, students are constantly challenged to engage with their communities to be forces of positive change. Our clubs and organizations offer events that give students an opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals as they share perspectives on different ways dentists can use their talents in society. Many thanks, Dr. Strom, for sparking conversation on these timely topics at our school!

ASDA Penny Wars 2014 photo 3
Dollar bills are negative points. Do we smell sabotage?

There’s only one week a year when a penny is worth more than a nickel, dime, dollar or Benjamin. During Pacific Dugoni’s ASDA Chapter Penny Wars fundraiser, students, faculty and staff competed against each other as they collected pennies to rack up points while “nickel-and-diming” opposing teams to inflict negative points. The winning team was determined by the greatest number of (positive) points. But having the most pennies doesn’t necessarily lead to victory, as a $20 bill in an opponents’ jar can wreak havoc in the final hour.

This year the faculty and staff took first place with 33,061 points. A total of $2,216.43 was raised through the Penny Wars fundraiser, and all donations will go directly to City Youth Now.

ASDA Penny Wars 2014

City Youth Now is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that supports youth in foster care and juvenile justice systems by providing funds for services and programs that promote stability and personal growth.

"Penny Wars was a great event that displayed one of the core values of Pacific Dugoni: philanthropy,” said Jeong Yun, ASDA community outreach coordinator. “Everyone's willingness to contribute reminded us that we are truly a family. On another note, we will make sure to ‘nickel and dime’ the faculty and staff next year!"

Pacific Dugoni’s chapter of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) provides opportunities in dental education, advocacy and community service. All Pacific Dugoni students become members of ASDA and have an opportunity to participate in chapter activities. Learn more about ASDA’s activities here:

AAWD members hold a bake sale.

As the 2013-2014 school year comes to a close, the Pacific Dugoni chapter of the American Association of Women Dentists celebrates its first year and reflects on hopes for the future. The AAWD is a national organization dedicated to supporting and enriching the lives of women through education and outreach. Melissa Styles DDS ’14 and president of the Pacific chapter of the AAWD shares what inspired her to start a chapter at Pacific Dugoni:

“I was able to meet several of the national leaders at a conference for Successful Women last summer, and I was immediately inspired by their stories. At the University of the Pacific, we embrace all of our faculty, students and patients, and I knew a chapter of the AAWD would only bring more positive influence on the relationships of the people within the Pacific Family.

“We have had several meetings now, where the amazing women faculty of Pacific have shared their stories of overcoming obstacles, becoming mothers and striving towards becoming excellent dental clinicians. We've shared tears, we've shared laughter, and more importantly, we are becoming closer in our relationships and providing the support we need in a traditionally male field.”

Many of Melissa’s academic and professional choices have been guided by a heart for service. She was still an undergraduate student when she heard Dr. Arthur Dugoni speak on the importance of serving the community as a dentist, and his words resonated strongly with her. She became active in the community at her university and later served three years with the Peace Corps in a village in the South Pacific. At the Dugoni School of Dentistry, she has been able to serve the San Francisco community as well as her colleagues through various activities, including the founding of an AAWD chapter.

AAWD revised

In collaboration with the Larkin Street Youth, the AAWD reaches out to mentor young women interested in health careers. Melissa hopes to build a lasting relationship with the Larkin Street Center to continue to help young women navigate the path towards health professions.

The AAWD may be the new kid on the block, but it’s intelligent, bold and passionate. We’re looking forward to seeing how this community will grow at our school. Here’s to many more years of women leaders in dentistry!

Pacific Dugoni students participate in campaign to end the use of the “r-word.”

Take the pledge on March 5 and help put a stop to hurtful language. Pacific Dugoni students in the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry student club along with faculty advisor, Dr. Allen Wong, will be spreading awareness of the pervasive effects of the “r-word” – “retard(ed).” Visit the table in front of Café Cagnone on the second floor of the dental school to take a pledge to stop using the r-word and to treat all people with respect.

Pacific Dugoni students helping to spread the word on March 5
Pacific Dugoni students helping to spread the word on March 5

Words are both a reflection of our attitudes and the building blocks of culture. Changing perceptions can begin by changing the language we use. The “r-word” is exclusive, offensive and derogatory to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities

“Working with patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities has shown me how deeply hurtful the ‘r-word’ can be,” said Michael Suh, DDS class of 2014 and president of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry student club at Pacific Dugoni. “When people carelessly use this word, it makes it seem OK for our generation and the upcoming youth to recite this in our everyday vocabulary. It’s a negative cycle that continues to happen, and people must understand that special needs patients are a part of our community and must be treated with respect.”

“Spread the Word to End the Word” is a campaign led by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and other supporters to raise awareness of the derogatory use of the “r-word” and to encourage people to pledge to stop using the word. The day of awareness is held annually on the first Wednesday of every March. In addition to encouraging people to take the pledge, Spread the Word to End the Word also provides resources to encourage honest and respectful discussion.

The Dugoni School of Dentistry believes that all patients deserve to be treated with dignity. The Special Care Clinic offers dental services to people with special needs and is staffed by faculty who are trained to treat people with developmental and psychosocial considerations.

AADMD poster 2