On January 29, Chaminade honored its newest Distinguished Alumna, Dr. Diana Zschaschel '87 at the annual Distinguished Alumni Breakfast. Joined by family, friends and other Chaminade alumni, Diana was honored by President Jim Adams as well as by Councilman Dennis Zine, who presented her with a Proclamation from the City of Los Angeles.
Dr. Diana Zschaschel decided to be a dentist at the age of nine when the need for braces introduced her to her first experience with a Hispanic female professional. From that point on, she felt a need to help others.
While attending college at UCLA, she took a class in Psychology working with children with autism. As part of the curriculum she became a behavioral specialist for autistic children. She continued to work as a therapist for several years while completing dental school.
Dental school brought about other opportunities to work with persons with disabilities. During this time, Dr. Zschaschel started a grass roots campaign with the statewide Special Olympics and, with the help of some of her professors and classmates, provided oral screenings for the athletes for four years at UCLA.
After dental school, she took a position for a year with Children’s Miracle Network (a non-profit organization, providing dental care for the children of migrant workers in Northern California).
She was then encouraged by her professors at UCLA to return to do a hospital dentistry program and research. She completed oral exams of over 300 persons with developmental disabilities for a UCLA Public Health study. She finished her residency program and received the Biotene Award for Excellence that year.
Dr. Zschaschel started her own practice in 1999 where she incorporated her skills in behavioral therapy and hospital dentistry. She has had privileges at UCLA and St. Vincent’s hospital where she works with medical anesthesiologists to treat severely disabled individuals and provide them with quality dental care.
Dr. Zschaschel also uses her skills in dentistry to help her country as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve. She has traveled the world performing dentistry for soldiers as well as people in impoverished communities without power, running water, or toilets.
She recently started Angels’ Smiles with the vision to bring optimum dental and overall quality healthcare to persons with disabilities (whom she calls her “angels”).
In addition to her work, Dr. Zschaschel also serves on the medical board of directors for the PACE/Headstart program of Los Angeles and is an Ambassador for the Los Angeles area Chamber of Commerce where she was named Volunteer of the Year in 2005. In 2007, she received Local Hero of the Year from Union Bank and was featured on KCET’s Hispanic Heritage Month.