The Hype Is Real: NLC
“If you want the things you’ve never had, you’ve gotta do the things you’ve never done.”
While exploring the opportunities offered through my school’s ASDA chapter, one topic kept coming up in pretty much every conversation I had. It went something like this, “If you get the chance, make sure you go to the NLC in Chicago at least once before you graduate. This is where I really caught ASDA fever.” Over and over, from the past chapter president to the faculty advisors, the message was consistent: “Go to the NLC.” As I later found out, the American Student Dental Association’s National Leadership Conference, held annually in Chicago, IL, is one of the largest gatherings in our field tailored specifically to the dental student. When applications opened up, I quickly double-checked my exam schedule and then put my name in for selection. As a D2, I realized I had only a few opportunities left before I graduated; this thought only further fueled my excitement. A few days later, I got the email, “Congrats! You have been selected to represent your school at this year’s NLC. Pack your bags, you’re going to Chicago!”
Fast forward to November 15th, 2018. The conference starts tomorrow morning at 8am sharp. While a few of my classmates were checked into the Chicago hotel with me, many were now battling flight delays and cancellations due to a snowstorm that blind-sided all three of NYC’s major airports. After learning that around half of my colleagues would be unable to make it to the delegation, I knew instantly that I owed it to them to get the absolute most out of the many breakout sessions and keynote speakers throughout the weekend. It was now my duty, more than ever, to bring back the lessons I learned so that our entire school could benefit from the vital exchange of ideas between chapters and leaders from across the country.
My expectations were set unreasonably high by countless detailed and electrifying stories from previous years’ attendees, but I was quickly humbled by the sheer power and momentum of the massive group of motivated student leaders, all learning and growing from each other. The networking started over an early breakfast on the first morning and stretched late into the fourth quarter when everything was wrapping up on Sunday afternoon. Over the course of 3 extensive days, packed to the brim with moving and thought-provoking conversation, I was able to witness just how commanding and influential dental students can be when they work together to build each other up and to have their voices heard. I will never forget the conversations I had with my new colleagues and friends over 6am cups of coffee in the lobby or late night cocktails overlooking Grant Park. By the end of the day on Sunday, my body was tired, but my mind was fired up, roiling with ideas we would bring back to our chapter waiting for us back in New York City.
The weekend was long, the conversations were endless, and the handshakes: too many to count. I heard the stories about NLC weekend and I thought I knew what to expect. Knowing what I know now, when I try to explain to interested classmates and prospective applicants the influence this weekend had on my personal and professional life, nothing I can think of quite sums up just exactly how much I enjoyed myself and how much I grew.
Blog Contributor: Chase Aaron, NYU '21
OMFS Society, Member