February 23, 2017
DDS Class of 2018 students Trent Ichiuji and Alex Mendoza recently shared their perspectives on several important healthcare-related issues during a "Grassroots Advocacy Day" organized by the California Dental Association at the state capital in Sacramento.
They began the day with an introduction to policymaking from CDA staff members, followed by a visit with dentist and Assemblyman Dr. Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) to learn his path from dental school to elected office. Dr. Wood's legislative duties include serving as Chair of the Assembly's Health Committee.
The students also met with staffers of Assembly Members David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and State Senator Scott Wiener (SD 11) where they discussed topics such as addressing proper allocation of Prop 56 funding to Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal reimbursement rates, dental plan reporting and accountability, and kindergarten oral health assessment. Three dental students from the UCSF School of Dentistry also participated in the event.
"Beyond healthcare policy, we also discussed how dental students can be more involved and invited the legislators to visit our school events," said Ichiuji. "We really enjoyed the experience and it solidified the pride that we have in our school."
Ichiuji added that he had gained inspiration not only from the day itself, but from a related quote he recalled from Pixar's film Ratatouille. "Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere', modified to ‘Not everyone can become a great leader, but a great leader can come from anyone.'"
Ichiuji serves as president of the Dugoni School's American Student Dental Association (ASDA) chapter and Mendoza serves as the ASDA Chapter Legislative Liaison. A contingent from the ASDA chapter is preparing to attend the ASDA National Student Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. in March.