SPEA at the 2019 National Leadership Conference

At the 2019 ASDA National Leadership Conference, the SPEA National board had the privilege to attend the three-day affair in Chicago, Illinois. Why is NLC one of the most prominent leadership conferences for predentals and dental students to date? Alongside the beautiful Chicago skyline, deep-dish pizza and marveling at “The Bean”, over 830 attendees from 65 dental schools came to develop their leadership in dentistry, business, and professionalism by networking and listening to captivating presentations on a variety of topics. There were three keynote speakers and more than 50 breakouts that students could choose from. 

Megan is National SPEA’s Vice-Chair, and she noted, “Chicago with National SPEA was absolutely amazing! In addition to bonding with the old and new board members, I gained so much knowledge about the future of dentistry and dental licensure.  I was honored to be in great company for a weekend and can’t wait to put the tips and tricks I’ve learned to work!”

This weekend marked two months since Annual Session, the National SPEA Board members’ last meeting, and there was anticipation about catching up and discussing the future of the organization at the local and national levels. Our very own Executive Director Dr. Mike Meru presented on ethical dilemmas in the dental office, including issues with live patient licensure utilized in dental schools today. Other presentations included topics such as managing a successful practice, an intraoral photography tutorial, tips on getting into residency and more. It was a full and exciting weekend, that inspired attendees to be compassionate, effective, and well-rounded dentists. What were some of your favorite takeaways? Until next time, NLC!

SPEA 9th Annual Session 2019 Awards

This year, SPEA’s 9th Annual Session was held in San Francisco on September 6-7, where speakers, students in SPEA and members of the American College of Dentistry came together to learn and share ideas about professionalism and ethics. To highlight some of the great work done by several outstanding chapters across the nation, awards were given in several categories.

Best Regent Communication – University of Western Ontario

The University of Western Ontario received the “Best Regent Communication Award” for its efficient and friendly communication between its chapter’s board members and its regent, Diana Boodram. The university maintained regular and efficient communication regarding information about upcoming events, conferences and helped the chapter promote SPEA on a local level. Thanks to staying in contact effectively, the University of Western Ontario was able to stay organized, grow as a chapter and maintain a healthy relationship with their regent. Congratulations to the University of Western Ontario for its strong regent communication this year.

Best Event – Indiana University School of Dentistry

 Indiana University School of Dentistry received the “Best Event Award” after holding its extremely successful event, “Cases That Haunt Us”. For this event, IU School of Dentistry featured several clinic directors in a panel to engage in a discussion about difficult cases that “haunted” them. This event not only brought students together to spark a conversation about ethics, but allowed them to ask questions and connect their own experiences to the cases that the professors discussed. This event was ingeniously held during Halloween, to get students excited about this “haunting” event.  Congrats to IU on their Best Event award. 

Best Fundraiser – Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

The “Best Fundraiser Award” was granted to the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. To fundraise, members had the clever idea of selling SPEA safety glasses to students. Safety glasses were a big hit with patients and students in clinic because they were not only functional but started the conversation on what SPEA stood for and what it was. After this successful fundraiser, students reported that they enjoyed supporting their SPEA chapter and that the variety of colors was a bonus. At SPEA’s 9th Annual Session, this idea had representatives from universities excited to start their very own safety glasses fundraisers and got attendees talking about what makes fundraising successful. Congratulations to USC for holding such a productive fundraiser. 

Best ACD Relationship – Dental College of Georgia

The Dental College of Georgia took home the “Best ACD Relationship Award” due to their phenomenal relationship with the American College of Dentists (ACD). Founded in 1920, the ACD is the oldest major honorary organization for dentists, and champions for ethics, excellence, professionalism and leadership in dentistry. The Dental College of Georgia maintained constant contact with their ACD regent, Dr. Carole Hanes, ensuring that they were aware of events, fundraisers and any new growth in their chapter. Due to their excellent relationship, they have been able to host ACD speakers at their university, such as having seminar lunches, full-day ethics lectures, and case scenario discussions, further engaging students in SPEA. They have worked hard to foster a strong relationship with the ACD, and it has resulted in a high level of student engagement at their events. Nice work Dental College of Georgia, for this great achievement.  

Best Membership Development – UCSF School of Dentistry

The “Best Membership Development Award” went to UCSF School of Dentistry. This university demonstrated more growth than any other chapter, gaining over 60 members in one year. By hosting their first Membership Appreciation Luncheon, they were able to increase student interest and promote awareness of SPEA.  In addition to this successful event, they were able to use fundraised money towards SPEA-personalized sunglasses that were handed out as tokens of gratitude for students who registered with National SPEA. Students could not only use these gifts but they also served as talking points, which was a bonus. Congratulations to UCSF for their achievement in membership development. 

Momentum Award – University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry

The “Momentum Award” was awarded to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. UIC had five representatives attend SPEA Annual Session this year, and their newly established local chapter is working hard to host successful events and to establish a strong presence at their dental school. Notable SPEA events held at UIC this past year included a lunch and learn titled: “Our Response to the Atlantic Article” in which over 100 attendees engaged in a panel discussion with the Dean and two other faculty members regarding the controversial article discussing dentistry. Another great event was “Ethical Grateful Grams” for Valentine’s Day. UIC raised money by offering students and faculty the opportunity to write something nice to a fellow colleague along with a goody bag with treats made by the executive board. Keep up the great work, UIC SPEA!

Most Improved Chapter – University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine

The “Most Improved Chapter Award” was granted to the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. This chapter has grown tremendously, and has seen a large boost in student interest. They did a great job over the course of the year of engaging students in what SPEA is all about. Last year, their chapter would have few students attend their semester dinner with the ACD, and now they are hosting popular breakfast events that students are getting excited about attending. When in the hallways around the school, students have been heard talking about cases from SPEA events. It is exciting to see SPEA steadily growing at universities across the nation, such as this one. Congrats to this chapter for their improvement overall.

Chapter of the Year – University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine earned the “Chapter of the Year Award”. This award went to a chapter that went above and beyond, in terms of getting students involved with SPEA, increasing chapter growth, and promoting ethics and professionalism at their university. UPenn held several successful events, such as “SPEA Week”, a week-long event series that got students excited about ethics, with a new activity each day of the week. Activities included setting up an anonymous “Ethical Concerns” box for students, a photo-op that boosted their chapter’s social media presence, hosting speakers on discussions about cosmetic dentistry and dental licensure, and an interactive poster board, on which students could write what ethics means to them in exchange for a donut. UPenn also prompted student involvement with SPEA by offering food and academic credit for attendees at a select number of lecture series. They also tracked student responses to events, using surveys after every event. Through these incentives and exciting events, there is no question that this chapter deserved this award. Congratulations!

Judith Naziri: Immediate Past Executive Chair

Get to know Judy, our all-star Immediate Past Executive Chair. Judy’s position requires her to be stuck on our board for two years, but lucky for us she loves SPEA so much, she couldn’t think of anything better! Be sure to say hi to Judy tomorrow when Annual Session starts!
Judy is from southern California and attending dental school at USC. She graduated this past spring and began her orthodontic residency program shortly after at USC. She is currently killing it by the way in her residency program. To say that Judy is passionate about SPEA is an understatement. The desire she has for encouraging proper ethics is unreal! Judy is passionate about helping others especially those with limited access to care.
Biggest pet peeve: When patients have tongues that don’t sit still! I call these “Nosy tongues” because they always want to touch and feel whats going on. Luckily the rubber dam fixes this!
Spirit animal: A sea lion
Biggest fear: I’ve had so many dreams that I’ve fallen down waterfalls… this is definitely a fear of mine
Favorite season and why: Summer is my favorite! Everyone seems happy every day and there are so many activities you can do when the suns out
Favorite thing about dental school: My favorite thing about ortho is that you start out with a case and you know where you want to end up but there are so many ways to treat the case. It give you the opportunity to be creative and you can see/ show the patient their progress along the way.
Least favorite thing about dental school: My least favorite thing about ortho is when patients have bad hygiene. Not fun when plaque stuck on an o-tie flicks on you 🙁
Above is a picture of Judy having a competition to see who can have cleaner teeth with some sweet kids in Panama! Not sure if Judy won, but I heard through the grapevine that it was a close competition between her and the girl in the pink shirt! We hope Judy continues to stay connected with SPEA even as she goes on to accomplish bigger and better things!

Elyssa Schlossberg: Vice-Chair

Put your hands together for the enforcer of ethics, the baller of basketball, the queen of SoCal, and our vehement Vice-Chair, Elyssa Schlossberg! With a smile prettier than the Mona Lisa you can’t help but to want to instantly be friends with her. Some of the official duties of the Vice-Chair include spokesperson for the association at the request of the Executive Chair, Speaker of the House; Chairperson of House of Delegates; Chair of Council on Membership, Education, Governance, and Events including Annual Session; Parliamentarian; coordinates regent affairs and reviews association governance documents. Wow, what a mouthful. Those are a lot of duties if you ask me and Elyssa has done an amazing job juggling and fulfilling all of those duties. Be sure to get to know Elyssa better at Annual Session this coming weekend.
I’m in my 4th year of dental school at USC (of SoCal, not South Carolina), and have lived in Los Angeles my whole life. When not fixing teeth I like to get active outside with hikes and sports– I have a pickup basketball crew and am on a kickball team, play strategy board games and do escape rooms, and if I’m being really honest watch a healthy amount of Netflix.
Biggest pet peeve: When two cars drive next to each other at the exact same speed so you can’t pass
Spirit Animal: Duck
Biggest fear: Bees!
Most embarrassing moment: freshman year of college discovering that, despite being on a campus with tens of thousands of students, I had a reputation as the girl who could be seen chasing after her skateboard (I was learning!)
Favorite season and why: summer- long sunny days, warm nights, there’s a happy energy and will to go out and do things, and I’ll take sweltering heat over cold rainy days every time.
Favorite thing about dental school: All the amazing people I have befriended and get to see and work with everyday! Also, the relationships I get to make with my patients and the impact I get to have on their lives.
Least favorite thing about dental school: the slow pace of working within the bureaucracy
My favorite part about SPEA is the way it brings together passionate dental students who all have in common the desire to become the most upstanding members of our profession, and helps us all create the toolkit we need to navigate what can sometimes be ethically murky waters. The energy at annual session is truly incredible, and I love getting to meet and befriend my fellow dental students from around the country!
Some of Elyssa’s favorite things to do include going on adventures and trying to get incredibly close to ducks without actually touching them or making them angry. That is a talent that I envy a little bit. Elyssa is articulate, deep thinking, and fun to be around. She has been a great asset to the National Board of SPEA this past year.

Nive Ramesh: Regent for Regency 6

Drumroll please for the wonderful, fierce, talented, all-around amazing Nivedhitha (Nive) Ramesh (good luck trying to correctly pronounce her first name), our Rad Regent for Regency 6. Give Nive any job and she will not only get it done but exceed your expectations. Lucky for us she finds ethics interesting and fun because she has been dedicated to this organization and put in a lot of work; from designing a Game of Thrones themed SPEA t-shirt, to helping some chapters get up and going in her regency. Come meet Nive in San Francisco this weekend!
I’m Nive, I’m from Massachusetts, I’m a double Jumbo (go Tufts!). I’m in dental school because I wanted a way to be involved in healthcare and also get to use my hands every day, and dentistry makes a huge difference in people’s lives!
Biggest pet peeve: Slow walkers on the side walk… I’m always late and speed walking!
Spirit Animal: Definitely a dog! Probably an Aussie like my furbaby 🙂 Too much energy, obsessive about my hobbies (like reading).
Biggest fear: That I’ll never finish writing this novel I’ve been working on for years
Most embarrassing moment: Oh gosh, there are too many. But my family’s favorite one is when I had my dance debut and didn’t make a single mistake until I tripped off stage after my bow. In front of 600 people.
Favorite season and why: Fall! Sweaters and boots and scarves oh my. I love the crisp air and the wind and the colors! I’m a New Englander all the way.
Favorite thing about dental school: Challenging myself to get better with my hands – I love learning a new skill and getting to put it into practice
Least favorite thing about dental school: When patients cancel after I’ve set up 🙁
Nive loves exploring new places. The picture above is of her in Vancouver.  She not only loves adventuring but also loves representing dentistry in any way possible. I mean, not only does she look way good in that picture but you can’t help but admire her 3M bag. Gotta represent everywhere you go. A cool fact about Nive is that her favorite brand is Neutrogena. She loves all thing Neutrogena, and can’t get enough of it. Another cool fact is that she has a beautiful Australian Shepherd that is super cuddly and friendly. I’ve never actually met her dog but from the pictures on Facebook, it looks like he would be super cuddly and friendly.
Be sure to say hi to Nive in San Francisco, but just make sure you never walk in front of her especially if you are a slow walker and just wanna soak in the beautiful San Francisco skyline.

Tim Jung: Regent for Regency 1

Let us introduce Tim Jung, our raffish regent for Regency 1! Tim kills it wearing a bowtie, has an amazing and outgoing personality, and can pretty much talk to you about anything. He loves San Francisco and knows all the hot spots to hit, so stick with him at Annual Session and he’ll show you everything there is to love about San Fran.


I’m a 4th year dental student at University of California, San Francisco. I’m originally from Korea but I have been in the Bay Area for awhile. I love trying different types of food and going on a hike on weekends! I absolutely love being in the city because you can truly embrace equality, diversity, and inclusion! You can also enjoy many types of activities such as street fairs, different types of cuisines and nature! I’m very excited that the SPEA 9th annual is at San Francisco and I encourage everyone to explore the city while you are here!

Pet peeves: talking during the movies

Sprit animal: dogs
Biggest fear: falling off a cliff
Most embarrassing moment: when I was learning English, someone told me I’m gullible and I thought he called me I’m global because I came from Korea…..
Favorite season: winter because there are holiday drinks, chocolates and food! Also you can enjoy the snow and enjoy the holidays!
Favorite thing about dental school: working with the patient and educating them about their oral health and seeing the improvement
Least favorite thing about dental school: doing admin work and looking for the right case for your CEs.
Tim is adventurous, and has developed a love for all things outdoors. I know that it is hard to concentrate on anything other than his large biceps in the above picture, but if you take your focus off his arms, you will see that he is a world-class skipper. He also loves the indoors as well, and boy let me tell you that indoor Tim is just as fun to be around as outdoor Tim. Come see for ourself at Annual Session next Friday and Saturday in San Francisco.
Tim has dedicated so much time to this great organization and has done an excellent job in spreading the SPEA fire to other schools in region 1. He has been a major contributor in helping plan the details of our Annual Session this year. Without Tim, our organization wouldn’t be where it is at Today.

Josh Bussard: Executive Chair

It’s time to get to know the Spartan of ethics, the Duke of professionalism, the King of SPEA, our Fearless Leader Josh Bussard. Josh seriously is a jack of all trades. Not only is he insanely talented, but he is well organized, easy to talk to, and always willing to listen to your opinion and input. Many changes have happened in SPEA this year that have been for the better because our leader Josh got the ball rolling. He is one person you will want to be sure to meet and talk to at Annual Session.


From Minot, North Dakota, Josh is currently in his 4th and final year at Indiana University School of Dentistry. His claim to fame is that he knew about Dots pretzel before they were cool (if you don’t know what those are, you are seriously missing out). Aside from dentistry, Josh’s biggest passion is ethics. He loves this association and loves helping others learn to be as passionate about ethics and professionalism as he is.

Why did you choose to become involved with SPEA: SPEA’s focus on developing future leaders of our profession through situational ethics and professionalism is something that I’m passionate about. One of my favorite parts about SPEA is that we strive to collaborate with other organizations and are inviting of all students to become members in some capacity. I’ve enjoyed meeting and collaborating with dental students across the U.S. and Canada during my time on SPEA’s National Board.

What is your advice to new students who would like to become involved with SPEA? Where do they start: Jump in! Attend Annual Session! Also, attend your local callout meetings, visit with upperclassmen, and consider running for positions locally as well as nationally. My involvement with SPEA has created some of my fondest memories and reminded why I chose to pursue dentistry.

What would other students be surprised to find out about you: I grew up playing soccer and was captain of my varsity soccer team in high school.

What gets you out of bed in the morning: As a proud North Dakotan would say, Coffee!

What non-dental accomplishment are you most proud of: My Undergraduate Senior Violin Recital. As a double major in Biology and Music Performance, one of my music requirements was to prepare over an hour’s worth of music celebrating my accomplishments.

What was your favorite class in Dental School: Fixed Prosthodontics. What dental student doesn’t love a challenge? Although a challenging IUSD course, it helped prepare me for clinic the most.

What advice would you give to other dental students: Don’t fake your understanding and focus on improving areas that challenge you. Ask questions!

What is your spirit animal: Owl.

If you could be a cartoon character, who would it be: Garfield hands down! He’s lazy, but I love his humor and he’s not afraid to bust a move.

Josh is a world traveler, a grade-A friend, a Vivaldi level violinist, an outdoor enthusiast, and a rockstar sibling. A long kept secret that Josh has, is that at SPEA Annual Sessions, underneath the fancy shirt, jacket, and tie, he always wears a t-shirt of Garfield. He’s always gotta rep his favortie cartoon character! Come see if you can spot his Garfield t-shirt at Annual Session. Annual Session this year will be held in the lovely city of San Francisco from Sept. 6-7. It is coming up soon! If you haven’t registered already time is running short. Hop on over to speadental.org/register-now to register.

Diana Boodram: Regent for Regency 7

Did you guys know that SPEA goes all the way up into Canada? Well, it does and Diana Boodram, the Radiant Regent for Regency 7, is one of the main reasons that SPEA is growing in Canada. According to Google, there are ten accredited dental schools in Canada, 4 of which have SPEA chapters. Diana has done an amazing job reaching out to the schools in Canada and helping spread SPEA up north! She is seriously holding down the fort for an entire country, so needless to say Diana has contributed so much this year. Get to know her a little better!
Diana was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and currently attends the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry. In addition to ethics and professionalism, she is interested in access to care issues in dentistry. Diana chose to pursue dental school because she enjoys the small-scale, detailed work; she also enjoys dismantling common misconceptions about dentists. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, and catching up with friends.
Biggest pet peeve: ppl who post excessively on social media… 🤳🏽
Spirit animal: owls 🦉
Biggest fear: the ramifications of climate change 😬
Most embarrassing moment: mass e-mailing my entire school by accident… whoops 🤦🏽‍♀️
Favorite season and why: spring. 🌷 spring showers & fresh flowers–a chance for a fresh start
Favorite thing about dental school: getting my hands dirty 🧤
Least favorite thing about dental school: calling patient to book & confirm appointments 📞🗓✍🏽
In addition to being super smart, amazing at dentistry, and very hard working, Diana is also an amazing artist. Just take a moment to appreciate her painting! She is definitely not a person you want to miss meeting at Annual Session, although you may hear her say “Go Raptors” more than you’ll want to, but hey…”Go Raptors!” Just don’t bring up the whole Kawhi thing or she may not talk to you. Diana is as sweet as a princess on a throne while at the same time getting things done and making sure that they are done right. We love having her insight and ideas when it comes to helping SPEA become more widespread in the US and Canada. 
If you haven’t registered for Annual Session yet, the deadline is quickly approaching. Head on over to speadental.org under the Annual Session tab for more info regarding the conference and to register. Hope to see you there!

Kate Sumerfield: Regent for Regency 2

Get to know the beautiful Kate Sumerfield! Our very Regal Regent for Regency 2. Some cool things about Kate: She totally rocks that pair of glasses, has hair almost as blond as Daenerys Targaryan, loves cats (which she has been known to call herself the Mother of Cats), and her favorite dessert is spicy cake. Come get to know Kate better at Annual Session held in San Francisco this year from Sept. 6-7th. It’s still not too late to register and apply for chapter awards! Follow the link for more info.


I was born in Illinois but raised in Colorado, where I have been fortunate enough to stay for all of my education so far! I went to the University of Denver before I started dental school at the University of Colorado. I love that I have been able to stay in state because it has given me the opportunity to do all of the activities that I love while I’m attending school. I love hiking, running outdoors and being on the water. If I’m not outside, I love to watch movies…I can quote almost every movie that I have seen. My best friend (who is also in dental school) and I started a rollerblading club at a local park in Denver! The reason that I wanted to become a dentist is because I love that it gives me the opportunity to make an impact of patient’s lives in a way that is both medical and emotional, and who doesn’t love the feeling of clean teeth!


My biggest pet peeve: is people who enter the highway going slower than the speed limit
My spirit animal: is probably an otter
My biggest fear: is disappointing others
My most embarrassing moment: was when I accidentally called my male professor grandma
My favorite season: is Colorado winter when there is snow on the ground but it is still a blue sky with the sun shining
My favorite thing about dental school: is getting to go through it all with such great people
My least favorite thing about dental school: is all of the lab work
Being from Colorado, Kate loves and appreciates everything about the outdoors. If she is not fixing teeth, she’s up in the mountains hiking or just breathing the fresh Colorado air. Her dream is to start a dental practice in the mountains above 9000 feet. Well, maybe not but I wouldn’t be surprised if she did. Kate never stops working and brightens up SPEA so much. We love having her on our team. Don’t miss an awesome opportunity to meet the beautiful Kate, and all the other amazing people on SPEA, at Annual Session!