by: Randi Polster
Attending National Student Lobby Day in Washington D.C. was an amazing experience. It was an opportunity for all us students to see dentistry from a different point of view. Sometimes while studying for exams and stressing over the next complex dental procedure we have to perform, we forget about how bigger things like politics can affect our future. In Washington, we were all reminded of how important it is for us to speak out and use our voice to protect our profession.
We kicked off the meeting with a great District 6 event at Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and a better atmosphere to reconnect with old friends and make new! It was a really great way to come together as a district and share stories about our dental school experiences as well as our lives outside of dental school. Later we were joined by other districts to make the evening more exciting than it already was! It was really nice to mingle with everyone before the lobbying began.
On the first day of the meeting, we learned more about our purpose in Washington. We learned how to lobby, what issues we were lobbying, and were fortunate to listen to a variety of excellent speakers. We spent the majority of the day learning about H.R. 539 Action for Dental Health Act and H.R. 649 Student Loan Refinancing Act. These bills are important to us as students because they would allow our communities better access to care and create less stress on students as they face their overwhelming debt after graduation. We were fortunate to have Representative Brian Babin and Representative Paul Gosar speak to us about these bills before our journey to Capital Hill the next day. We engaged them in a very helpful Q & A session and learned how to approach our goal of gaining support to these issues.
The next morning, the bus departed for Capital Hill and approximately 380 students unified together to share our thoughts and personal stories with our respective congressmen. We voiced our opinion of H.R. 539 and H.R. 649 with representatives, senators, and their office staff. One of my meetings was with Representative Steve Stivers who represents the 15th district of Ohio. I was nervous at first to meet with a congressman, but it turned out to be a very casual conversation. It was great to hear his view on the issues and I felt my voice was heard. Throughout the day, it was refreshing to feel support in all my meetings and witness how invested they all were in our concerns.
At the end of the meeting, we were all exhausted after some good lobbying and connecting with students from all across the country. This exhaustion was a good feeling because it meant it was yet another successful ASDA adventure! It was an exceptional experience that I recommend every student attend if possible before they leave school.