Olu Brown says she’s “always wanted to be a dentist or dental hygienist.” The first step was enrolling in Dal’s Transition Year Program for African-Canadian and First Nations students. From there, she started a bachelor’s degree in psychology. “I’m planning on finishing it,” she says. “All I need is one course.”
The next step toward Ms. Brown’s dream of a career in dentistry was her acceptance into Dal’s Diploma in Dental Hygiene program, which she completed in 2009. After working full time for a year as a dental hygienist, Ms. Brown started the Bachelor of Dental Hygiene program.
“I’ve gained so much experience in just one year—we’ve done everything.” she exclaims. “From business plans, policy analysis and teaching methods, to hands-on experience in a mobile outreach clinic.”
Providing hygiene and preventative care to the patients at the Mount Hope clinic was rewarding—and it also inspired her career path. “It motivated me even more to start a mobile clinic,” Ms. Brown explains. “I saw there’s a real need for that type of service and I found out I’ve got what it takes to do it.”
And an entrepreneurship elective helped Ms. Brown create a business plan for her mobile clinic, Smart Smiles Dental Hygiene. “It was challenging,” she says. “But the professor, Paulette Dunn, adapted the material to our knowledge level. That class was definitely the highlight of my year.”
The School of Dentistry faculty were -supportive, too. “Professor Neish, in particular, always encouraged me to pursue my business goals.” Ms. Brown has made many contacts in the industry, and is confident she can succeed with her career endeavours.
“It means a lot to me that I’m the first black woman to graduate from the BDH program,” she says. “It’s why I worked so hard to get in.” Ms. Brown hopes to inspire other young African-Nova Scotian women to apply. “I’ve been asked to speak to students in the Transition Year Program,” she says. It’s a fitting part of her own transition from being a student to being a self-employed dental hygienist.
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