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.
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!