Student Spotlight: Leaha Nels

For the past 7 or so years I’ve had an on again off again workout schedule. I started out running slow 5k’s, did a couple half marathons and eventually did a few sprint triathlons with some weightlifting sprinkled in every once in awhile in for good measure.

About 3 years ago, I became one of those crazy Crossfit people and started working out more regularly. When I started I simply wanted to supplement my running workouts with more regular weight training and different methods of cardio to improve my running times. Because of the consistency I gradually became stronger and was able to add some muscle mass.

When a friend started talking about bodybuilding competitions a couple years ago I was intrigued but I convinced myself that it was something I could never do because I did not have the dedication to stick with the diet. I remember her saying, “This is something I always said I never thought I would or could never do, but here I am.” After hearing that I realized the only thing that was keeping me from doing it was telling myself that I could not.

I started my prep mid-January 2014, I originally planned to do two shows but ended up doing three, so my prep lasted five months. I had to fully commit to the meal plan and the workouts so very few food cheats, no skipping the gym. My weeks started out with me preparing all of my meals for the week, I ate six meals a day so there was a lot of food to prepare, but this made sticking to my meal plan much easier. A typical day consisted of a workout before I would go to class, another workout after I was finished at school, and thinking about ice cream non-stop. I also had weekly posing sessions and would practice posing a few times a week (to be honest I always used to laugh at bodybuilders and their posing, but posing practice was a workout within itself).

Before my prep began I was honest with myself about what extracurricular activities I would be able to participate in, knowing that my prep would consume a lot of my time and energy. As a result I had a very uneventful social life during those few months, the plus side to that was having “extra” time to prepare for classes and patients.

Ultimately I won my pro card, which allows me to compete against other professional bodybuilders and win prize money. I am taking the next year or two to improve my physique so that I can be more competitive when I compete as a pro.


This is without a doubt one of the most difficult things I have ever done but something I am so glad I decided to do. I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of, which is way more than I give myself credit for and I think that is true of most people. So while I realize being muscular and over tan (during the course of 3 months I had 11 layers of spray tan applied, that’s just crazy) is not for everyone, I hope to encourage people to choose a goal that pushes them and do it. If you do it with consideration and devote yourself wholeheartedly to it I promise you’ll surprise yourself and find that there aren’t many things that limit you.


Leaha Nels- Class of 2016

NLC Excursions: Brent’s Intro to Chi-Town Pies

I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not going to talk about desserts. While I am somewhat known for my dabbling in the dessert world, I would say pizza has held even more of a dear spot in my heart than the sweets. Shocking, right? Whether it was the influence of my grandma letting me make those Chef Boyardee pizza kits or my love for the pizza fiends that are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I just developed a longing for all things pizza. As I aged, I learned that there is not just a single form of pizza.
There are supposedly over thirty regional varieties of pizza in the United States such as New York and Chicago style (in fact, even the magical city of Detroit has it’s own style). Personally, I tend to favor the thinner side of the spectrum with Neapolitan and New York style pies. I feel that these pies represent a delicately crafted canvas of ingredients that result in one amazing pie. They are minimalistic in approach and speak to what I believe pizza should be. I have discussed sauces, cheese blends, and dough recipes with Troy Schmitz on a few occasions, so I know what’s up. Even though I am kind of picky, if it is pizza, I will definitely give it a try. I even dreamed of someday embarking on an epic pizza quest with the goal of pizza nirvana. Luckily I ended up in Chicago for NLC, thanks to a series of fortunate events. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do and nom on some ‘za.

Before I went to Chicago, I was skeptical about Chi-Town pizza. I had seen the Food TV specials over the style pioneers such as Pizzeria Uno or Giordano’s where they were producing behemoths that seemed more like a spectacle than other more reserved styles of pizza. These pies seemed more like a tomato and cheese casserole. Essentially what I have come to know from normal pizza was literally reversed. The traditional layering of toppings is rearranged to yield a bottom layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the meat (sausage is the meat of choice in Chi-town), and finally blanketed in a heap of hearty sauce. Now if you want to get a little more technical, you could split thick-crusted Chicago style pizza into three variations such as deep dish, pan pizza, and stuffed pizza. Most of the differences in these types come from crust composition, rings of carmelized burnt cheese, and other things that fancy food critics analyze. But really, who cares? I just wanted to try some monster pizzas. Since I was on a tight schedule, I was only able to try two of the well-known places, Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s.

We arrived at Giordano’s near our hotel on the first night of NLC and I was ready for my first authentic Chi-raq pizza experience. They are rumored to have been one of the originators of stuffed pizza. I feel like we kind of dropped the ball at this place. We ordered a barbeque chicken pizza and a veggie supreme. I am usually not a veggie pizza guy so I went with the barbeque chicken. After forty-five minutes, our pies came out piping hot and ready for chowing down. First off, if cheese is not your thing, I would steer clear of this bad boy because the mozzarella layer was about an inch thick of gooey awesomeness. I love cheese so I was immediately pumped to take down a slice. The stuffed pizzas usually are more intimidating since they are taller, heavier, cheesier, and saucier. The barbeque chicken was a little disappointing because they sort of left off the majority of the chicken of said barbeque chicken pizza; so in essence, I may have got a tangy barbeque sauce pizza with a light dusting of chicken crumbles. At the least the cheese was legit. The veggie pizza seemed more akin to what I had seen and heard from others with ample toppings. Overall, Giordano’s wasn’t awful, but next time, I will order a more traditional pie.


Giordano’s Pie: Notice copious amounts of cheesy awesomeness.

Now my second run at pizza didn’t go down until our last day in the Windy City. The previous night included a failed attempt to eat at a Lou Malnati’s so I was determined to eat that or some other pizza before we left. After incessantly pestering my colleagues about pizza the entire morning, I convinced them that ordering pizza was a super idea. Coincidently, Lou’s delivered to the hotel so it actually worked out perfectly. An hour later, two hefty pizza boxes greeted us down in the lobby. Lou’s summed up what I had heard from others about Chicago pizza. The crust was crisp, yet yielded to a soft interior. The cheese, though not as plentiful as Giordano’s, was still sufficient and gooey enough for cheese lovers. Lou’s, along with some other places, makes their mozzarella and sausage in-house, so you know you are getting fresh goods Their sausage is traditionally served as a patty, not in crumbles. It had a great taste and was not dry. Their sauce was substantially chunkier and heartier than anything I ever had previously. It harbored a better well-rounded taste versus the barbeque-cheese combo I had at Giordano’s. The pieces were large enough to where two was filling, unless you are Raegan Vaughan. I imagine he could pound down a whole pie no problemo. Sadly, that concluded my brief pizza trek.

I came into the trip thinking that I would try one pizza and be put off by the loud, imposing nature that embodies the Chi-town pie. I was very wrong. Hopefully I get the chance to go back to Chicago and try more places like Pequod’s, Burt’s Place, and other local places that have even better pizza. I even ordered four Lou Malnati’s pies from that were flash frozen and shipped back to OKC for gifts. If you want something that resembles Chi-town pizza in OKC and don’t want to order air-shipped frozen pizzas, try Humble Pie in Edmond. Chef Heard creates some amazing pies that are true to the Windy City style.

So after all of this, my loyalty to the New York style is still unshaken. But now I have a deep respect and appreciation for the big timers in Chi-town. Until we meet again Chicago, keep it real…



My first Chi-raq pie at Giordano’s: BBQ Chicken sans chicken, tons of cheese

-Brent Haynes, DS3

ASDA’s National Lobby Day in Washington D.C.

Every now and then, being in dental school affords the opportunity to be involved in something bigger than just the daily grind. This last April I flew to Washington D.C. with Justin Young and Matthew Bridges for the National Lobby Day hosted by National ASDA. Every school in the nation sends delegates to storm the capitol with bills that will directly reflect on our student loans, our future practices, and our profession as a whole. The first day I arrived we were able to take a couple of hours to see the monuments and be tourists. Being my first time on the east coast I was enamored with all the beauty and history that D.C. has to offer, and I did not have nearly enough time. On the second day, we attended a huge convention where all the delegates met to learn about the new bills and how to communicate them to our Senators and representatives from each state. The opportunity to meet students from other schools with the same passion I have was really inspiring. On our last day in D.C., we stormed the capitol. Over 400 representatives from dental schools around the nation met with its government leaders to discuss three very important bills – loan repayment, loan interest rates, and funding that will enable dental offices to do free work for special cases. I will admit that a few of the offices were a bit intimidating at first. However, after introductions were made and a few laughs were shared, every person I met was friendly and willing to talk not only about the important bills, but they were also interested in getting to know us. The entire trip was something I will remember for the rest of my life and it will leave a lasting mark on the responsibility I owe my profession to insure not only its survival but its future success. Get out of your comfort zone and get involved in a campus organization to find out for yourself just what real change is all about.

-Steffan Sigler, ASDA Historian, Legislative Committee Member, OUHSC Inaugural Leadership Class Member

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ASDA NLC Conference- A Student’s Perspective

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Parul Ajmani- Class of 2015

This year I was one of the two students selected to attend the ASDA National Leadership Conference in Chicago, IL. There were a number of sessions that I was excited about and I was not disappointed!

The Conference was set up such that everyone could attend the general sessions in the mornings and then break out into sessions of their choice. On the first day, the keynote speaker, Adam Braun of the Pencils of Promise Organization, one of the most inspiring people I have had the opportunity to listen to, delivered the perfect pitch to kickstart the conference. His story is one of extraordinary proportions. From surviving a disaster on the sea to realizing his life’s purpose, and from fulfilling that purpose to inspiring others finding theirs.

Another general session that really stood out to me was on non-verbal communication for dentists. Vanessa Van Edwards, a lead investigator at an organization called Science of People, presented this session. If you have heard of the TV show called “Lie to Me”, it is based on the research done by Vanessa and her team. She talked about recognizing body language in patients and also using some techniques in our own body language to build trust in our patients. Since attending this session, I’ve become more cognizant to patient’s non verbal cues, such as a patient sitting with both hands

in their pockets and legs crossed, demonstrating anxiety versus someone who is laying in the chair relaxed with their hands on the side and legs uncrossed. Vanessa also talked about recognizing microexpressions, which of course will take years of practice to master. For those of you who are interested in learning more about understanding human behavior, her website is

Among the breakout sessions, my favorite one was Marketing Your Practice on a Budget, by Dr. Mike Meru. Dr. Meru gave some very good information to help market a startup practice, including resources to find designers, products and services that are necessary to fresh graduates wanting to set up their own practice on a budget. For example, you can get your logo designed on a website called, which includes the copyright to your logo. Another website is, where you can then get your business cards designed for $5, which can then be printed through for less than $20. He also discussed developing and managing a website and using tools to increase traffic as well as using social media to market your practice and bring in new patients.

Conferences such as these are the perfect melting pot for future generations of dentists and provide a great opportunity to make new contacts and exchange ideas. I know that this is an experience I will not forget and some of the ideas I garnered will be useful as I start out on my career in dentistry. THANKS ASDA!

-Parul Ajmani, Class of 2015, ASDA Member

ASDA UCO Alumni Visit Pre-Dental Students

On Thursday, Nov. 20, a group of UCO alumni dental students and ASDA members, visited the University of Central Oklahoma Pre-Dental Society for a 1-on-1 Q&A session. The meeting, spearheaded by 4th year dental student/current National ASDA Vice President, Daryn Lu, turned out be an informative and successful event. Daryn Lu founded the UCO Pre-Dental Society in 2007, and since then, the Society has grown to be one of the larger pre-health professions groups within the UCO College of Science, with many OU dental students coming in from that very group. A warm thank you to the dental students who came out to represent OU ASDA, and shared some valuable knowledge with the pre-dental students at UCO.

14420_2272880908436_2322452418488325599_n Chandani Ragha ’16

ASDA Get Fit Initiative

As dental students, we spend our days sitting. Whether we are hunched over a patient (let’s face it —ergonomics is not any dental student’s strong suit), or seated for hours of lecture, we are immobile from at least 8:00am-5:00pm Monday through Friday. This doesn’t even take into consideration the hours of studying spent after we return home. Forget the gym; forget making a healthy meal— when I get home, I sit at my desk, make a bowl of Ramen noodles with a side of Oreos and study until I fall asleep. It is sad that we, as health care providers, can hardly find the time to keep ourselves healthy while we are preaching to our patients the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. With this realization in mind, OU-ASDA launched the ASDA GetFIT Initiative this fall to promote an active and healthy lifestyle while in dental school. The goal of this project is to make healthy living easier for dental students, while also showing that there is always enough time to take care of yourself in between caring for your patients. As part of this initiative, ASDA’s Activities Committee put on a Welcome Week for all ASDA members. This week included a Smoothie Bar, Yoga for Dentists, a Salad Bar, a Yogurt Parfait Bar, and an interclass Ultimate Frisbee Competition. In addition, throughout the semester, there were ASDA GetFIT events to promote healthy living while in dental school. These included an ASDA team in the Susan G. Komen 5K, an ASDA GetFIT category in our Annual Fall Dental Olympics, and multiple Yoga For Dentists sessions.

Although these events are only a small step toward overall health and wellness, it is our hope that they motivate each dental student to take their health into their own hands. Good grades and refined hand skills will make you a great dentist; however, they will do you no good if you aren’t healthy enough to get into work everyday!

ASDA plans on continuing this GetFIT initiative throughout the year, and are working on another Welcome Week for the spring semester to remind everyone to stay active even in the colder weather. Also, we’re planning on expanding the initiative to take on a mental wellness approach in addition to the physical component. Until then, we challenge everyone to stay healthy throughout the holiday season and come back ready to stay fit with GetFIT!

Alison Seamans
OU ASDA Vice President
Class of 2016

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OU ASDA- Back to the Basics

Everyone has heard the saying “you’ve got big shoes to fill…” or some variation of this quote. And granted it is a cheesy and overused saying, it dose depict what being Oklahoma ASDA’s president has been like. Over the past two years, under both Seth Brooks ’14 and Daryn Lu ’15, our ASDA chapter has skyrocketed; each year surpassing the last. So coming into this position, following these two, has been a large task; but one I’m truly excited for. Oklahoma has had one of the strongest ASDA chapters across all 65 dental schools in the US, and my goal for this year is to continue this trend.

This year our theme is “Back to the Basics” which will allow us to refocus on what brought Oklahoma’s chapter to this point: our members. I feel it is crucial that Oklahoma ASDA members see the value of joining our chapter and attending the various events. By doing so, our members are investing in themselves and the profession. Our ASDA chapter is working to create opportunities and direction for

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 3.51.02 PMour members that will stay with them far after their time at the College of Dentistry. I believe that the skills and resources our members attain from an organization like ASDA will help further   their dental careers. That is why I have shifted our focus to membership and building strong leaders that will help grow and impact the dental profession. Our chapter has recently launched  ‘ASDA GetFit’, a yearlong health initiative with a monthly event that recharges and encourages members to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We have also planned a new formal social event, Casino Royale, to allow our members a unique opportunity to socialize with faculty and vendors outside the walls of the school.

Additionally with the help of our Title sponsors, Oklahoma ASDA is very proud to offer six scholarships for members to join officers at the three national conferences throughout the year. The goal behind Oklahoma ASDA’s direction this year is to increase member participation on both the local and national level. With our member’s support and through the hard work of all the ASDA Officers, this year will be a great success.

Shak Feroz
OU ASDA President

Daryn Lu: ASDA’s National Vice President

1467404_663957126959511_199467003_nIn February 2014, I had the privilege of being elected to serve as a vice president of national ASDA’s executive committee. What many members do not realize is that ASDA is not just a club or small student organization. ASDA represents the voice of over 20,000 dental students at all 65 dental schools. We have a full time staff, a working board of trustees, and powerful representation including 5 votes at the ADA House of Delegates (which is the same if not more than a few state dental associations)! Between constantly monitoring my patient family, studying for classes/boards part 2, and familiarizing myself with issues important to dentistry – life can become pretty stressful and demanding!

Adjusting to my role has been a unique challenge. Last year serving as both chapter president and district trustee allowed me to work directly with incredible student volunteers and oversee key projects like planning a district meeting with over 50 attendees and multiple local events here at OU like dental olympics. My new role on the EC is now supported by ASDA’s brilliant staff, headquartered in Chicago. Learning to be more hands-off and focus my energy on strategic planning has been a great learning opportunity.

Balancing my time between school requirements and my commitment to ASDA has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. A typical day involves organizing an email inbox that magically stays full, preparing to treat my patients and deliver care in the most efficient manner possible, and getting ready for conference calls or travel to various meetings. My travels since my election have taken me to the National Dental Student Lobby Day, the Academy of General Dentistry Annual Meeting, and the ADA New Dentist Conference along with multiple ASDA board meetings in Chicago. I also serve as a student consultant to different ADA Councils. It is at these conferences that our executive committee meets with dignitaries of organized dentistry to help advance issues important to dental students including licensure reform and student debt. It is our job to ensure dental students have a voice and are adequately represented

One of my greatest pleasures is sharing my experiences and advice to rising student leaders. I will be able to present and lead breakout sessions at events like ASDA’s National Leadership Conference as well as other district meetings that I have been invited to. Developing my public speaking skills has been one of my goals for the past several years. By putting myself out there and constantly challenging myself, I have learned how to be a more effective communicator with my patients!

I recognize that my journey would not have been possible without the positive community here at the OUCOD. The administration, my brilliant Gold Bay 1 family (Dr. Greenley and Listina), and especially the Class of 2015 (shoutout to the most understanding clinic partner ever – Troy Schmitz), have all been my greatest supporters. I recognize that I have been blessed to have both their faith and encouragement to put myself out there and represent Oklahoma on the national level. I can only encourage others to rise to the challenge and better understand that it is our responsibility to help lead and shape the future of dentistry.

Daryn Lu- Class of 2015

2013 OU ASDA Annual Golf Tournament



How does a Saturday full of friends, food, and fun sound? Come out to ASDA’s annual golf tournament! You and 2 friends can sign up, form a team, and spark some friendly competition.

Your entry fee gets you an afternoon of golfing, food, and drinks on the course, and a dinner later that evening! $55 registration/player. Awesome raffle prizes will be available! Almost everyone was a winner last year!

Tournament proceeds go towards the First Tee charity.

Click HERE to register your 3-person team!

5 Tips to Manage Money in Dental School

1) Make a Budget and Live by It 

The number one thing we do is make a written budget and live by it. Budgets can be flexible. Even when I was single I did this. It’s not a restriction but creates great freedom on spending because you know where your money goes. You can learn some good about this at:


2) Insurance (ASDA plus whatever else you need) – Life / Disability!

Insurance is about risk. Crap happens all the time. Take the time to sign up for the free insurance with ASDA so that when tragedy happens you don’t make it worse by not being prepared. If you have a family you need to get a term life insurance policy to provide for them when you are killed by merging on I-35. You can easily pick up $750k or 1mil term life. Get the ASDA disability coverage and then the ADA coverage as soon as possible upon graduation. You are significantly more likely to be disabled than to die.


3) Set some aside

The unexpected is expected to happen. Have some cash ready to handle it. Yes you can apply for more financial aid but keep it at a minimum.


4) Pick up some work

There is time to learn and get paid. Do summer research. Work part time in a dental lab. The breaks and summers are a great time for this. You’ll learn more about what you want to do 8 to 5 every day anyways. You’ll get faster at things which saves you time in pre-clinic. And… when it comes time to file your tax return you’ll have an actual income which qualifies you for credits, refunds, etc.


5) Learn about Money

Medical professionals are notoriously ignorant about money. Don’t be that; take time to learn. Dr. Ken Coy (a faculty member in Community Dentistry)  has an amazing list of books about money. Ask him about it.

If you were to read only four I would suggest “The Total Money Makeover”, “The Millionaire Next Door”, “The Richest Man in Babylon”, and “The 10 Commandments About Money.”  All of these books are free at the library and all are quick reads.

Another great read is a blog post by a former ASDA All-Star, Dr. Ryan Dulde.  He has an awesome blog called Excursives and a few months back he featured a post called “Money… and Other Dirty Words“.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.


Enjoy life as a dentist-in-training as we stand on the threshold of a noble and caring profession,

Chad B Carter, ’15