May 2024 IL Dental News

Student Higlight: Julissa Quiñónez

Growing up in the small town of Rochelle, Ill., with parents who “very much valued education and hard work,” Julissa Quiñónez is a first-generation Mexican- American student. She received her bachelor’s degree from Quincy University, where she was very involved as a resident assistant, orientation leader, supplemental instructor, and active in various clubs. Julissa is wrapping up her fourth year at Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine. Last year, she received an Illinois State Dental Society Foundation Scholarship. When she learned about the ISDS scholarship and read the essay prompt, Julissa was inspired to write a paper discussing everything she’s learned about organized dentistry due to her involvement with the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). “When I heard that I was a recipient of this scholarship, I was truly so grateful and excited,” she says. “One of the most rewarding aspects was knowing that my involvement and efforts to learn more about organized dentistry were evident and well conveyed.” In her second year of dental school, she got involved with ASDA, first holding a position as Wellness Chair and then Chair of Communications. As an ASDA representative, she’s made valuable connections with dental students and dentists, attending many conferences, including ASDA District 7 meetings, the ASDA Annual Session, the ISDS Annual Session, the National Leadership Conference (NLC), and ADA Lobby Day. Thanks to those experiences and connections, Julissa realized she would be an excellent fit for the ASDA Legislative Liaison position, which introduces students to all aspects of organized dentistry. “Before taking this position, many students at our school knew very little about the ADA and the importance of organized dentistry,” she notes. Julissa undertook several new initiatives, including a program called Advocacy Bytes and a Trivia Night. The most successful, however, was a panel event called Women Powerhouses in Organized Dentistry , which drew more than 50 participants and featured successful female professors from SIU and an award-winning dentist from the ADA.

“The goal of this event was to empower female students and convey the importance of our voices being better together. We care for our profession and the patients we serve,” Julissa says. “Through our panelists, we displayed that being involved with organized dentistry is a great way to continue to make connections out of dental school

and that the extent to which someone is involved is up to them—it could be as simple as donating to ADPAC or holding a position in a local component. I believe traveling to DC each year to be a voice for the ADA and taking up positions at the national level is of utmost importance.” Julissa was named the 2024 ASDA Legislative Liaison of the Year thanks to her incredible involvement and leadership. “I am so grateful to our awesome SIU ASDA president, vice president, and legislative liaison elect who were very helpful and supportive with these initiatives and ASDA for igniting my interest and fueling my passion for organized dentistry,” she says. As she looks ahead at her future, Julissa reflects on being grateful for the ISDS scholarship that will provide financial relief as she pursues her dreams of being a dentist. After graduation, Julissa will move to North Carolina to work as a general practitioner, where she plans to continue her involvement with the ADA and organized dentistry. “The ISDS scholarship has made a huge impact by helping pay for many expenses that students are often burdened by: board examinations, licensure, and moving expenses after graduation,” Julissa says. “I hope to gain a lot of experience in all areas of dentistry and would like to learn much more about implants. The ISDS Foundation scholarship and my experiences with ASDA will continue to help as I move on from this chapter and into the next one of my career.”


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