Transitions: Detroit to Dental School

Transitions: Detroit to Dental School

101 days ago, I closed the trunk of my car over the last packed crate, hugged my dog and little sisters, and set off on a cross-country drive from Michigan to California to start my D1 year at Western University of Health Sciences. Since then, my life has changed and been enhanced in unique and challenging ways. I could not imagine a better start to a career of serving others through dentistry.

December Student and Faculty of the Month

Salman Chaudrey, DMD 2019

Salman “Sal” Chaudrey is one of the gems of CDM and why he is ASDA’s Student of the Month. A shining beacon of positivity, perseverance, and genuine likeability, Sal’s vibrant personality and brilliant brain is an example of why WesternU’s dental program is so great. We have no doubt that Sal will continue to do great things throughout his dental career. You go, Sal!

“When I think of Sal, many positive values come to mind. Sal’s unconditional commitment to becoming an outstanding doctor is shown every day in his perseverance to learning and doing whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. Sal is always willing to share his knowledge and warm personality to anyone around him, and his honesty and integrity shines through as a model for all.” - Dr. Robert Hasel

“Sal has been an incredible big brother in Sim and class to everyone. He is constantly encouraging our class mates and offers help when ever it is needed. Sal has stayed after to help others on many occasions and continues to be a positive role model within our class.” – Joshua Sanchez, DMD 2019

“One of the kindest most genuine people I know. He shows an incredible amount of humanism and caring when some is struggling in sim. He's the first person there to help them.” – Mahmoud Hamad, DMD 2019

Dr. Alejandro Urdaneta

Dr. Alejandro Urdaneta is this month’s ASDA Faculty of the Month because he embodies the spirit of a someone who loves teaching. He approaches each opportunity with his students as a valuable teaching moment to spread his enthusiasm for prosthodontics and provides personalized care for each of his patients. He is a joy to be around, spreading laughter to both students and patients alike, and is a valuable member of our teaching staff. Thank you, Dr. Urdaneta!

“Dr. Urdaneta is great to work with, always helpful and patients enjoy having him around. He's especially great when it comes to working with Spanish speaking patients and his passion for the profession is on display in multiple languages!” – Stenson Womack, DMD 2017

“The Dental Center is privileged to have Dr. Urdaneta. He is dedicated to helping the students master the art of fabrication of indirect fixed and removable restorations. Dr. Urdaneta demonstrates a possible attitude by spending countless hour teaching students guidelines for laboratory submission. As a result of his contribution students are better able to process lab cases to high standards.” – Veronica Lozano, RDAEF, BS


DMD 2017 is raising funds to help their classmate Ryan Choo. The class is selling buttons in support of Ryan. Come get your limited edition buttons to support Ryan and let him know that We Got Choo! $5 donation recommended, all proceeds go to a special fund in Ryan’s honor. You can get your button this Wednesday 11/16 and Thursday 11/17 at lunch in front of Outtakes. #wegotchoo

October Student and Faculty of the Month

Susie Kim, DMD 2018

Sung Eun Susie Kim is October’s ASDA Student of the Month because of her dedication to everything she does. In addition to being incredibly capable both academically and clinically, Susie is well-rounded in other areas as well, from being active in multiple CDM student organizations to volunteering at nearly every event, bringing her bright, positive spirit and authentic self and inspiring us all to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. Thank you, Susie!

“Sung Eun is the paragon exemplar who models the quintessence of a dental scholar. She is a compassionate altruist with a benevolent smile (and laugh) emitting a jovial demeanor among her colleagues and peers. Her amiable character and genuine poise is coalesced with her commitment to understanding dental medicine and a determination for delivering optimal care for all her clinic patients. The illustrious Sung Eun “Susie” Kim is an inquisitive, confident, sassy, fashionably dressed woman destined to leave her mark on the dental profession with success, brilliance, and elegance. Girl, you deserve this honor! 완전 대박 축하해!” - Corey Stein, DMD 2018

“Susie gives 110% at everything she does, and goes above and beyond for her patients and peers. Her positivity and eagerness to learn is inspiring. Susie will be a blessing to all her future patients.” - Pauline Nguyen, DMD 2017

“Susie is a focused young woman. Her involvement in all aspects of CDM is exemplary. Her desire to learn was evident from the first day of clinic. She has shown continual improvement in not just hand skills, but critical thinking. She has a stage presence that belies her age. She is a very good public speaker. She accepts new assignments with an enthusiasm that is something to be learned. Sure enough, we all learn something from her. She interacts well with her peers, patients, and faculty. It is a pleasure to teach someone with such a thirst for knowledge. I don’t think I have ever seen her frown. Her name should include another ‘S’ for ‘Smiling.’” - Dr. Paul Simeteys

Sean Rowan

ASDA wants to show appreciation to Sean Rowan by recognizing him as October’s Faculty/Staff of the Month. Without Sean's open door policy, genuine interest in working with students, and dedication to each individual’s success, student-run events and clubs would not have flourished at the same rate as it has been in the last few years. He is a true advocate for students and his efforts are greatly appreciated. Thank you, Sean, for your hard work, and helping not just ASDA, but the entire student body.

“Sean Rowan always has the students' best interests at heart and works incredibly hard to make sure students feel supported by CDM. He goes above and beyond to plan college events that bring the students together. Sean is there for students every step of the way, from orientation until graduation.” - Nellie Ghazal, DMD 2017

“Dean Rowan has been nothing but great to our DMD 2020 Class. From the very beginning he was our first exposure to the College of Dental Medicine making sure our transition to dental school was smooth and enjoyable as it can be. He is truly a great person, a good role model in what professionalism should be, and he always is looking out for us. Try to catch him on campus, he never fails to give us that big warm smile!” - Jaycee Lim, DMD 2020

“Sean is an incredible asset to the College. He has a expansive range of responsibilities and the skills to match. He can be called upon to advise students on various matters, coordinate a complex event such as honors day, provide a key recommendation on a policy matter for the College or
University or counsel a colleague or student going through a personal crisis - often all in one day. Sean can be counted upon to bring not only competency, but compassion to each and every responsibility he holds for CDM.” - Dean Steven Friedrichsen

A Journey Measured in Smiles

A Journey Measured in Smiles

            The journey to graduation and licensure embarks as soon as your white coat has been bestowed upon you.  Licensure is the light at the end of the tunnel and the culmination of the blood, sweat and tears you have put in.  Luckily, there are different routes one can take in order to become a licensed professional.

April Student and Faculty of the Month

Brielle Slepicoff, DMD 2017

For the month of May, the Student of the Month is Brielle Slepicoff of the DMD 2017 class. Brielle is a silent leader that gives back to others without looking for recognition. She has been a role model to underclassmen for the past two years, from volunteering after hours to tutor underclassmen in Simulation Clinic to offering study tips to students for academic classes. She is one who hates public attention but will do whatever she can to help everyone she can individually and personally. Not only is she able to connect with faculty and her fellow colleagues, she makes an effort to reach out to others. She is professional, smart, organized, approachable, and has a heart of gold! Thank you, Brielle Slepicoff!

"Brielle is very hardworking and is always there to help. She is constantly in SIM lab after hours helping me and my classmates with our projects. Plus she makes great cookies!" - Paulina Saraza, DMD 2019

“I asked some of Brielle’s classmates what came to mind when I mentioned her name. Some thoughts were happy, thoughtful, meticulous, and persistent. I agree with all of these and more. It is always a pleasure to work with Brielle as she has a beautiful smile and spirit and strives for perfection. She also has good rapport with her patients as well as faculty and staff, and she really cares about the quality of her work. These attributes will carry her a long way in both her career and personal life. I look forward to seeing how much she will accomplish in her senior year, but most of all, I know that she will be someone that I will be proud to call a colleague in the future. “ - Dr. Matsumura-Lem

Dr. Brian Chui

This month's ASDA Faculty of the Month is Dr. Brian Chui. His dedication to his students and compassionate nature have not gone unnoticed. Dr. Chui is not only relatable, he is empathetic and understands the struggles of his students. He is a dependable, kind faculty member who leads by example, encouraging you to improve yourself clinically and personally. As students, Dr. Chui’s efforts to improving our curriculum behind the scenes are more than apparent. Thank you, Dr. Chui!! 

“Dr. Brian Chui’s dedication to the students and the DMD program at WesternU is truly superlative. His availability to students in the pre-clinical setting is exemplary. He is extremely flexible and always willing to do the extra behind the scenes work to make sessions run smoothly. His photographic and video editing talents have elevated CDM faculty presentations for student learning. In addition to all of these ECD functions, he is routinely requested to assist as a clinical floor faculty. Although relatively early in his teaching career, Dr. Chui has masterfully taken on all of these roles and performs his duties as a seasoned professor. CDM is lucky to have him!” - Drs. Fung & Farah-Franco

"Dr. Chui is very good about listening to and taking into consideration what we have to say. He goes above and beyond to make sure we have the skill set to be confident and successful in clinic." - Josh Kim, DMD 2018

March Student and Faculty of the Month

Alex Stevens, DMD 2016

For the month of April, the Student of the Month is Alex Stevens of the 2016 class. In the last four years, Alex has been truly exemplary. His warm spirit, passionate volunteerism, and humble attitude stands out to everyone who meets him. Alex's actions are selfless because he never seeks recognition for helping others. He is a quiet leader that many students look up to, and he will undoubtedly be successful after he graduates. Thank you, Alex Stevens! 

"Alex has consistently shown his strong work ethic in numerous instances while proving this in many forms, one such as the realm of public health dentistry. What immediately struck me is how passionate he is to delivering quality care to his patients and his adoration to promoting dental health through organized community efforts. He will undoubtedly be a brilliant leader and a superb asset to the dental community. " - Dr. Elmer Hilo

"Alex is just one of those quiet leaders in the class that leads by example. Whether it is giving encouragement to pre dental students at Riverside free clinics about dental school, to giving advice to dental underclassmen about clinic, Alex is one who his peers feel they can trust and depend on when they need him." - Parth Karia, DMD 2016

"He's like a microbrush. Small but useful " - Rica Guidangen, DMD 2017

"Alex is a stand up citizen." - Daniel Hwang, DMD 2016

Dr. Jeffrey Elo 

The Faculty of the Month is Dr. Jeffrey Elo. Besides being an exceptional teacher and prominent figure in oral surgery, Dr. Elo is also an advocate for student and patient rights. He, along with Dean Friedrichsen, fought for the AB 880 Bill that "allows final year dental students to provide dental treatment at sponsored health care events which offer free care, when supervised by their dental school faculty." His humility and passion for teaching inspire us everyday. Thank you, Dr. Elo, for everything you do for us!

"His contributions to the DMD curriculum, and patient care have been un parallel among his peers. His attention to detail, and pursuit to perfection are examples that other faculty pursue and serves as an amazing role model to students" - Dr. Singh

"Dr. Elo is a humanist who embodies the traits of both a gentleman and a scholar. I'm sure I speak for many students and faculty in saying that we are fortunate to have him as a part of WesternU." - Brian Sun, DMD 2017


On Tuesday February 23rd, Southern California student leaders traveled to the California State Capitol, Sacramento, to attend Grassroots Advocacy Day.  A day dedicated to the advocacy of important issues, priorities and legislation supported by the CDA and dentists across California.

WesternU College of Dental Medicine was present at Grassroots Advocacy Day along with dental students from Loma Linda University, University of Southern California and University of California Los Angeles. 

As dental students, our goal was to meet with State Senators and Assembly Members to seek support for currently sponsored legislation and assembly bills that will help shape the future of dentistry and public health. 

California State Capital Rotunda in Sacramento.

California State Capital Rotunda in Sacramento.

For example, AB 2485 introduced by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D) to restructure provisions of the existing California Dental Corps Loan Repayment Program of 2002 was a topic of much discussion. 

Currently, the CDCLRP has more than $1.5 million available to grant in scholarships for those willing to work in underserved communities. However, due to unnecessary restrictive provisions, it is difficult for applicants to qualify for the program therefore these funds have remained untouched. If passed by the Legislature, AB 2485 will address these barriers such as lifting restrictions against applicants who have received other grants or scholarships in the past thereby encouraging interested students to apply.  Western University students received unanimous verbal support for this bill from State Senator Connie Leyva’s (D) office, Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez’s (D) office and Assembly Member Marc Steinorth (R) and will continue to follow up with them.

Advocating for dental health policy couldn’t be complete without addressing the lack of access to care and the low dental reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal providers. 

According to the Department of Health Care Services, half of all children and one third of adults in California are now Medi-Cal eligible. Furthermore, since 2008, five million more Californians have enrolled in Denti-Cal, and yet the number of Denti-Cal providers has declined 15 percent. 

Along side CDA, we as dental students and future dentists, urged the state to develop sustainable funding structures for these programs and continue making Denti-Cal a priority. We also recognized and thanked legislators for their efforts in supporting the agreement reached with the federal government known as the Medicaid waver process at the end of 2015.  This Medicaid waver will grant California $740 million in federal money to address Denti-Cal’s deficiencies and incentivize preventative care at an early age.

Yet another controversial topic at the State Capital was the tobacco tax legislation introduced by the Save Lives California coalition.

The legislation is simple: it advocates for a tax increase on tobacco products as an attempt to save lives.  Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable deaths in California, and it claims more than 40,000 lives each year, costing the state more than $13 billion annually in medical expenses, which includes $3.5 billion in Medi-Cal costs.

Is there a solution to the increasing cost of health care for tobacco related illness and access to affordable care with an emphasis on education and prevention?

According to the state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office a two dollar tax increase per pack of cigarettes will reduce smoking by 15 percent and will raise $1.5 billion in new revenues that will ultimately fund the Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal program, state oral health programs, research and prevention. 

As future health providers, we showed support for the tobacco tax legislation and urged state representatives to see the overwhelming health benefits of this proposal.  As advocates of the tobacco tax we faced challenging remarks by both Assembly Member Marc Steinorth (R) and State Senator Mike Morrell (R) as they were concerned with the long-term source of funding for programs relying on tobacco tax revenue following the decline of tobacco consumers. 

It is our challenge as health care advocates to emphasize the importance of lives saved for however long revenues remain.  We recognize that this is not a long-term solution to funding public health care programs, but merely an attempt to reduce the unnecessary health care burden posed by preventable illnesses. 

Advocacy day at the State Capital ended with an optimistic moral, and a fierce new understanding of the impact our collective voices and experiences can have on changing and reshaping public policy.

Southern California student leaders at the California Assembly Chamber.

Southern California student leaders at the California Assembly Chamber.