Third-year dental student honored for motivating and organizing her chapter to make progress on advocacy initiatives
Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Third-year dental student Mallory Obenauf was named the National American Student Dental Association (ASDA) Legislative Liaison of the Year awardee.

Obenauf, the Iowa Section of the American Student Dental Association’s (IASDA) D3 Class President, is one of two ASDA legislative liaisons in the Iowa chapter. The liaison is responsible for promoting engagement in advocacy initiatives. This award honors an outstanding legislative liaison for motivating and organizing their chapter as well as getting members involved in advocacy efforts and events.

Mallory Obenauf headshot
Mallory Obenauf

“I was surprised and humbled to be nominated for this award and to ultimately be selected,” Obenauf said. “The advocacy team that the Iowa chapter of the American Student Dental Association has assembled in the past couple of years has been nothing short of a powerhouse. In the past two years we have accomplished so many things together including re-establishing an annual state lobby day with the help of the Iowa Dental Association and educating our peers on the importance of engaging in advocacy while in school and after graduation. Advocating for our patients is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of the field of dentistry.”

Obenauf effectively combined her research with advocacy work. Her current research project, under mentorship of Dr. Peter Damiano, is evaluating the impact of student debt on dental student’s decision whether to do a residency. In her role as ASDA’s legislative liaison, she traveled to Washington D.C. last year to advocate for a bill that would allow dental residents to defer their student loans while in residency. 

Her research will provide an evidence base for future advocacy on the topic.

“As future experts in our field, it is our responsibility to be our patient's voice at both the local and national levels. By getting involved in advocacy while we are still in dental school, we are creating connections that will benefit our patients today and, in the future,” she added.