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Student program wins award for local dental society

The Golden Apple Award from the American Dental Association was recently presented to the Washtenaw District Dental Society for its “Sponsor a Student" program.” Taking part in the presentation were (from left) U-M School of Dentistry Dean Laurie McCauley; Joseph Fazzio (D3), president of the U-M chapter of the American Dental Student Association; Julio Duong (D3), vice president of the student group; and Dr. Brian Meade (DDS 2004), an Ypsilanti dentist who is president of the dental society. 

Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov. 23, 2016 -– A Washtenaw District Dental Society program that promotes interaction between School of Dentistry students and area dentists has received a national award from the American Dental Association.

The dental society won a Golden Apple Award from the ADA for its “Sponsor a Student” program.  The program invites dental students to attend the society’s general meetings, usually held four times a year, so that students can meet with practicing dentists to talk about the profession and gain career advice.  The society has about 400 members.

Several years ago the local society began discussing how to more actively engage students from the School of Dentistry at U-M and at the University of Detroit Mercy, the only two dental schools in Michigan. Barbara Kolling (DH 1983), the society’s executive director, said that initially only a few students per year were invited to the society meetings, then individual members began to sponsor a few more students to attend. The society eventually sought a grant from the ADA and for the last three years that money has funded 25-30 students for each meeting.

“Our members love – just love – having these students there,” Kolling said.  Members recall their days as students and know the value of having mentors to offer advice and guidance, for both navigating dental school and how to proceed into the profession upon graduation, she said.

As for students, the demand to attend the meetings is strong, with a waiting list usually in place for upcoming meetings each year.  Kolling works with members of the U-M chapter of the American Student Dental Association to coordinate the process of pairing students with mentors at the meetings, which include dinner.

Riley Schaff (D4) said the meetings are popular with students. “This opportunity provides us valuable insight into how organized dentistry operates at a local level and, more importantly, provides an excellent chance for mentorship outside of the four walls of the dental school,” he said in a nomination letter to the ADA. “Students have had opportunities to network, attend continuing education that reinforces and builds upon the dental school curriculum, and look into employment opportunities through these meetings.”

The ADA’s national award program, now in its 28th year, honors organizations and individuals who have contributed to the success of dental society activities.  The “Sponsor a Student” program won in the category of Achievement in Dental School/Student Involvement in Organized Dentistry.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:
Sharon Grayden, Communications Director, at (734) 615-2600,, or Lynn Monson, Writer, at (734) 615-1971.