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Fakhri Shekarchi

PDSA: Bringing Brighter Smiles

The Pre-Dental Student Association is a nationally recognized organization that’s acknowledged by dental schools everywhere. As a pre-professional organization, the RSO offers volunteer experiences, leadership opportunities and skills-based practice to their members to help them build a strong resume. To learn about PDSA, I sat down with the Secretary, Roxanna Roman Quero, to understand exactly what this exciting organization is bringing to their students.

To have a better grasp of what this RSO is trying to accomplish, here is their mission statement: “PDSA is a national student-run organization which protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of students pursuing careers in dentistry. It represents students with a unified voice and provides information, education, advocacy and services. The association introduces lifelong involvement in organized dentistry, and promotes change for a betterment of the profession.”

Tell me about PDSA.

Roxy: “As the Pre-Dental Student Association, we prep our members to be ready for applying to dental school; we have plenty of workshops and opportunities where they can learn a lot about the dental field. For example, upcoming, we have x-ray, charting and soap carving workshops where they can test their skills, and we also offer volunteering — both clinical and non-clinical — which is a really huge thing for professional school. We also have dean visits from different dental schools that will come and present their programs. Members have the option to meet with them one-on-one and get their names out there. Then, on the fun side of things, we also have socials and fundraisers.”

What are some opportunities and events you offer to your members?

Roxy: “I definitely enjoy our hands-on types of workshops, because that’s the most important thing with dentistry — you’re always going to be working with your hands. A couple of years ago, we had an orthodontics workshop where we got to place little braces on a typodont, and we also have different volunteering events, like being able to go out and teach little kids about oral hygiene. It makes it feel so great to be able to have that kind of impact.”

For those aiming to get into dental school, how would you say PDSA makes them a better applicant?

Roxy: “PDSA is actually a nationally recognized pre-dental club, so a lot of dental schools know our association and are aware of all the amazing opportunities we offer. By just being a member you get a lot more personal help. For example, one of the workshops we have is about applying, so you get to know what you’re getting yourself into and what the application process is like, as well as having a mentor there to help you out from the very first day. We have a mentor-mentee program that is opened up every fall, where people can send their applications in and are then paired up. After that, it’s up to them what they want to do with their partnership, but it seems to be beneficial for many of the members in our organization.”

What would you say is the best part about being on the board for such a prominent organization? What about the hardest?

Roxy: “I’ve been a member since my freshman year, so it’s really great to be able to now provide the events that I’ve been provided with. Being a part of setting up those events and opportunities for our members is really gratifying. The hardest part is trying something different that hasn’t been done before, which is kind of difficult because you don’t want to repeat the same type of events, and we always try to be creative with them.”

What does PDSA mean to you?

I spoke to some of PDSA’s most involved members who also hold positions as directors in the club. I wanted to gain some insight as to why they joined and what they’ve gained from PDSA. From what they had to say about their RSO, I knew that PDSA was more than just a club to them. 

Amer Sbeih: “As a person passionate about dentistry, when I first came to UCF I decided to join PDSA. At first, I was not the most active member as I didn’t know any of the members at the time. With time, however, I started getting closer to those members who shared the same interest in dentistry that I have. The members in PDSA are very welcoming and loving, and with time PDSA became more like a family to me. In PDSA, we have so many events that set us up for success, and we have plenty of workshops that teach us all about the process of becoming a dentist and the path to getting into the best dental schools in the nation. We have plenty of volunteering that includes both dental and non-dental related events. For example, we volunteer as dental assistants at Grace Medical Home, which is one of the biggest charity clinics to open up in Orlando. Throughout my time at PDSA, I matured and learned so much by being around these wonderful members, and I was able to become a Director for the Sergeant at Arms, which allowed me to be responsible for many of the volunteering events. PDSA is not just a dental club; it’s a family that loves and helps each other grow to reach their end goal of becoming successful dentists that could give back to the community one day.”

Kulsoom Nemazie: “Being a director for PDSA was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. It gave me an opportunity to gain leadership under some amazing officers and allowed me to get more involved as well. I was able to meet so many more people while interacting with not only the guest speakers but the other members as well. I was very nervous when applying, because you’re only one out of the MANY applicants, but everyone was so friendly that it didn’t even hit me that I was going in for an interview. If anyone is thinking about making the decision of becoming a director, I say go for it. It doesn’t matter what year you’re in or if you’re not sure you’ll get the position. You lose every chance you don’t take, so go for it!”

As someone interested in the pre-med side of the road, PDSA sure did an amazing job of having me reconsider my path! With such a tightly-knit bond amongst their members and the unique opportunities they offer, if my hands weren’t so shaky and I had a mind capable of visual analysis, I would’ve joined in a heartbeat. It was an amazing experience to speak with our future dentists, and I can rest easy knowing our teeth are in good hands. If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Pre-Dental Student Association or would like to see all of their fun events, follow them on their Instagram, @ucf_pdsa!

Fakhri is a junior majoring in Biomedical Sciences, with a minor in Health Sciences, and aspires to be an OB/GYN. She loves volunteering, her family, and hedgehogs!
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