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Harvard School of Dental Medicine Takes Home the 2024 ASDA District 1 Student Debate Trophy

January 30, 2024 - On Saturday, January 27, 2024, at the Yankee Dental Congress, five American Student Dental Association (ASDA) District 1 Dental Schools plus one pre-dental team faced off in the 15th Annual Student Debate. In the end, teammates Brendan Anderson and Sabrina Del Valle from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) came out on top. The HSDM team took home the coveted trophy and honor of Student Debate champion.

The Debate ran for three rounds, culminating in a final round to determine the winner. Debate judges, American Dental Association (ADA) District 3 Trustee Dr. Jim Boyle, ADA President-Elect Dr. Brett Kessler, Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) Membership Committee Co-Chair Dr. Divya Upadhyay, and MDS Past President Dr. Howard Zolot evaluated the teams on a set of predetermined criteria. The six debate teams tackled the following topics:
  1. Can teledentistry increase access to care, or does it create new problems?
  2. Should foreign-trained dentists need additional education to practice hygiene/other mid-level positions in the United States?
  3. Do dental mission trips have harmful or helpful outcomes over time?
Teams knew the topics of the preliminary rounds but did not know if they would be presenting affirmative or opposing perspectives on each topic. They came prepared to argue both viewpoints. Judges and an audience of more than 200 colleagues and students listened to arguments for all three rounds. The judges then conferred, deciding who earned the top two spots. 
Those teams, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) and the University of New England College of Dental Medicine (UNECDM) moved on to the final round with a new topic, “Should pediatricians be trained and reimbursed for providing fluoride varnish.” After a brief ten-minute intermission to prepare, the two teams presented their arguments. Both teams offered strong talking points. In the end, the judges determined that the Harvard students had a stronger argument and were awarded the trophy and title of Debate Champion.

This hard-fought battle included the student teams of Anderson and Del Valle from HSDM, Boston University's Julie Dudek and Suleman Shaikh; Tufts University School of Dental Medicine's Anna Lubitz and Isabel Terrasa; University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine's Nicky Jorden and PJ Schwalm; University of New England College of Dental Medicine's Abby Campbell and Macy Punzalan, and the predental team of Mya Leonardo and Jordyn Choe. Congratulations to all who participated, and a special shout out to the winners, the HSDM team of Anderson and Del Valle.