UBC DHDP student wins CDHA Leadership Award

June 11, 2014

Airra Custodio, a recent Dental Hygiene Degree Program graduate, won the 2014 Canadian Dental Hygienists Association Leadership Award, sponsored by Dentsply.

Airra graduated this past May with a Bachelor of Dental Science (Dental Hygiene) degree.

The CDHA Leadership Award is conferred on a student who has contributed significantly to his or her local, academic or professional community through involvement and leadership.

Looking for alternative ways to submit her award application, she brainstormed ideas using either PowerPoint or video with Prof. Zul Kanji. But, he says, “I had no idea that Airra would submit what she ultimately did.” Though, Diana Lin, clinical assistant professor, had an inkling of Airra’s presentation skills from a previous year. “I knew she was creative when she did a nutrition rap for her team’s 310 community project,” she says. Check out Airra’s application video below.

Airra thought big picture, beyond the classroom and lectures for opportunities to make a difference and affect change in the community during her four years at UBC. Starting in her own backyard, outside the dental hygiene profession, she served as president of a Filipino club and led a mentorship program for Filipino high school students with the Vancouver School Board.

Within the profession she acted as a dental hygiene community coordinator undertaking projects involving health promotion and clinical services to homeless people, youth and senior women. She coordinated dental hygiene students at volunteer clinics, led disease prevention initiatives and served two years as an orientation leader during UBC’s Day of Imagination connecting first-year dental hygiene students to peer mentors.

Throughout her undergraduate program, Airra fostered a good faculty environment and inspired leadership in many others. Her motto: Camaraderie and cohesion.

Airra is grateful to her fellow dental hygiene students with whom she worked in the mentorship program: Chad Huang and Amber Lee, now both a third-year students, and Jeremy Huynh who graduated in 2013.

This is the second year in a row a UBC dental hygiene student has won this CDHA award. Jeremy Huynh BDSc 2013 won it last year. “Perhaps our students have started a leadership tradition,” says Prof. Bonnie Craig, director of UBC’s Dental Hygiene Degree Program.