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Fall semester filled with activity

Hispanic Student Dental Association's welcome fiesta lunch event

D2 Jonathan Aguilar, a co-president for the college's Hispanic Student Dental Association chapter, demonstrates a dance move during an Aug. 16 lunchtime welcome fiesta with D2 Jennifer Perry.

Photos by Steven Doll

HSDA has had a hectic September and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down the rest of the semester

Members of the college’s Hispanic Student Dental Association have had a busy summer — and a busy start to the academic year, for that matter.

During the summer, they trekked to St. Matthew’s Cathedral on Ross Avenue, site of Bishop’s Summer Day Camp, to discuss oral hygiene and education. The six Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry students who ventured to the free day camp program were ambitious, to say the least. They managed a group of more than 100 kids between the ages of 6 and 14 and were outnumbered nearly 20 to one.

On a smaller scale, they  also met with members of the Future Dentists Club — a TAMHSC-BCD student development-run program with approximately 20 high school students interested in pursuing dentistry as a career — and started what may evolve into a full-fledged mentoring relationship with the teens.

As the first two weeks of classes drew to a close, the HSDA chapter had already thrown two events: an Aug. 16 lunchtime welcome fiesta that resulted in a packed sixth floor foyer and a salsa dancing social night at Mambo Café downtown that drew a crowd of 40 TAMHSC-BCD students.

HSDA is capitalizing on the momentum of its recent events with big plans for September, which is Hispanic Heritage Month.

Student members have taken on more September activities including a visit to a Hampton Prep Charter School in Dallas on Sept. 24 to provide free oral screenings and oral hygiene instruction and to motivate students to pursue a college degree.

Hispanic Student Dental Association's welcome fiesta lunch event

Students select Jason's Deli lunches provided by the North Texas Hispanic Dental Association, HSDA's sponsor for the welcome fiesta.

Also on the agenda was the Sept. 22 North Texas Hispanic Dental Association’s Third Anniversary Gala. As of late August, the HSDA co-presidents — Jonathan Aguilar and Ari Valverde, both D2s — already were rallying members to attend the event, which offers students a prime opportunity to network with local professionals.

September also marks the start of a new HSDA initiative at the college. Members are planning the organization’s first lunch and learn workshop for clinical Spanish, geared toward helping students communicate in Spanish with clinic patients so they don’t get bogged down with translations. Exact dates are pending.

“We’re going to start off small this time to see how it works,” Aguilar says.

Next month, a wine and cheese night with 2008 TAMHSC-BCD alumna and HSDA past president Dr. Rosa Beck is scheduled for Oct. 19, to be followed by Zumba classes on Oct. 25.

The group’s annual end-of-semester dinner is slated for Dec. 9 at La Duni Latin Cafe, open to members, significant others, faculty and professional chapter members.

The deadline to join HSDA for the 2011-2012 year was Sept. 9, but nonmembers are still welcome at select social events throughout the year, of which there should be plenty. For D1 students who may be toying with the idea of joining, Aguilar and Valverde say the experience has been valuable to them in more ways than one.

“When you go to the events you get to see other upper classmates,” Valverde says. “When you’re in the basement you don’t get to interact with people.”

Joining HSDA also provides students — D1s especially — a much-needed break from the intensity of the semester, Aguilar adds.

“When you’re a D1 all you do is study, study, study,” Aguilar says. “It’s good to have those outlets.”

Students of all backgrounds are encouraged to join the organization, which may be one reason HSDA has maintained a membership of 60 to 100 students for several years.

“This HSDA chapter is very diverse, and we want to continue that,” says Valverde.

Aguilar nods in agreement.

“We want to make students aware of not just Latino issues,” he says, “but also of underserved communities as a whole.”

If you would like more information about the college’s Hispanic Student Dental Association chapter, contact Dr. Grace Snuggs, faculty adviser and assistant professor in restorative sciences, at GSnuggs@bcd.tamhsc.edu, or one of the chapter’s co-presidents, Ari Valverde or Jonathan Aguilar.