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OCHUWA AUDU

1835

Bold Points

2x

Finalist

Bio

I have practiced dentistry for nearly 15 years in Nigeria. At my core, I live and work to give the best of myself to others. In an audacious move to deepen mastery of my craft as a dentist and broaden my horizons as a person, I will return to dental school as a graduate student. Starting this spring, I will study to get a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at Loma Linda University. As a practicing dentist in Nigeria, I served my patients with astuteness, resoluteness, and a hefty dose of empathy to provide the best dental care possible in my setting. Indeed, through my years as a dental student, then a dentist, across volunteer to paid work, I saw the unique challenges of inequity facing dentistry in my home country. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I am poised to acquire cutting-edge dental education. This new knowledge will equip me with the skillset to serve with excellence back home and abroad. I believe the essence of being human - serving one another for the upliftment of all, starts with a willingness to give of oneself. Also important to me are compelling visions, family bonds, deep Christian roots, personal character development, sharing my culture with others, keeping fit, and hopes of being a super-mum and mentor to my kids.

Education

Loma Linda University

Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)
2022 - 2024
  • Majors:
    • Dentistry

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Hospital & Health Care

    • Dream career goals:

      Non-profit leader

    • Dental Surgeon

      Edo State Health Management Board
      2010 – 20111 year
    • Dental Officer

      2 Division Military Hospital, Oyo state, Nigeria
      2009 – 2009
    • Dental Intern

      Lagos University Teaching Hospital
      2008 – 20091 year
    • Dental Resident Doctor

      University of Benin Teaching Hospital
      2012 – 20186 years
    • Dental surgeon

      Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Medical Services
      2021 – Present3 years

    Sports

    Aerobics

    Club
    2019 – Present5 years

    Research

    • Dentistry

      University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Nigeria. — Researcher and co-author.
      2015 – 2016
    • Dentistry

      University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Nigeria. — Researcher and co-author
      2018 – 2021

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      4 Breath 4 Life — Dental screening, education and Referrals
      2018 – 2018
    • Advocacy

      Nigerian Medical Association — Writer in Association Journal
      2018 – 2018
    • Volunteering

      Nigerian Medical Association Edo State — Dental service provider
      2012 – 2018
    • Volunteering

      Committee on Dental Education and Health (CODEH) — Commitee member
      2006 – 2008

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    Contributing to Smiles Scholarship
    On a sweltering day in 1992, my mother returned home from work with my elder brother, and with one glance at him, my jaw dropped. His face looked swollen like a balloon at a birthday party. Crying uncontrollably, mom lamented that she did not recognize him when he showed up at her workplace until he spoke to her because of his "changed" appearance. Even as an eleven-year-old, I could relate to our mom's distress. Oshoks, as we fondly called my brother, was sent home from boarding school to seek treatment for a jaw swelling that started as a toothache. To my amazement, after a late evening visit to the dentist, Oshoks' face soon returned to normal. I had a torrent of questions, but Oshoks had instructions to rest his mouth, and mom enforced! In this confused state of relief, my fascination with dentistry began. From a thing of fascination, the practice of dentistry has gradually evolved into my life's calling. Being my second time around as a dental student, I do not take my opportunity for granted despite having walked this road before. Now, the stakes are higher. Hence as I return to formal training as an international dental student, I come with a heart full of hopes and dreams. Having surmounted challenges that honed my consequential soft skills, I am very clear about why I am back in dental school- to equip me to serve better as a dentist. Serving people with excellence is crucial because I see unmet needs everywhere. In dentistry, the gap between needs and access to care can be sometimes daunting. Yet, I must play my part in creating the just and equitable world that my heart craves by using my craftmanship and gifts. Furthermore, serving others through the deployment of my resources to provide respectful and compassionate service is a "seed sown in good soil" from my personal experience. As a dental student at Loma Linda University, I plan to spearhead community dental education, outreach events, and advocacy campaign efforts in underserved populations. Specifically, I am passionate about getting dental care to the homeless to the extent they are comfortable with receiving it. I intend to open up channels of communication and learning between my team and those we serve because I am always aware that learning is a two-way street. After graduation and equipped with cutting-edge knowledge, I will share the same with my dental community, especially in Nigeria, as part of a broader effort to give back. Additionally, I will strengthen and develop professional partnerships while partaking in information and technology sharing, including but not limited to efforts to enhance wellness and productivity among peers. I know my ability to create impact as a dentist goes beyond my expertise to the goodwill I garner. Hence, I also plan to harness the power of networking and the generosity of not-for-profit organizations, many of which await opportunities to assist a worthy cause. Being a mentor in academia and character development are also ways I intend to show up as a dentist. To catch them young, I will partner with local libraries and learning communities to expose our younger generation to resources and principles that will forever serve them. I plan to co-found a leadership-building academy focusing on nurturing successful female leaders, including their physical and mental well-being. Years after being that wide-eyed pre-teen, my fascination with dentistry persists, even as I have evolved into a visionary dental professional on life's journey. Despite times of fear and uncertainty, I will keep striving toward my compelling vision of a more equitable world with a hopeful heart.
    Patrick Stanley Memorial Scholarship
    As a dental professional, I carried "the itch" around for most of my years of practice. It accompanied me everywhere despite an outward appearance of composure. Not by any means something physical, the itch represented a deep yearning to shake off my recurrent ambivalence about my proficiency as a dentist. The thoughts sometimes arrived in trickles, other times, in floods despite my apparent career advancement. Eventually, this itch would send me on a professional re-rediscovery journey where I scratched beneath the surface in my quest for relief. Far from being an earthshaking moment of realization, I finally simply knew that I needed to take action. It was time for me to go back to graduate dental school. During my years as an undergraduate dental student in Nigeria, I learned to push the frontiers of collaborative dental care from some of my country's most proficient and astute clinicians. Fresh out of dental school in 2008, my career path seemed to be cut out for me. I would serve my country for the mandatory one year, get into a residency program, climb up my professional career ladder, and become a "chief." These goals all came to fruition. By 2017, I was all set to earn my fellowship in restorative dentistry, which would be the apogee of my specialist training. But then that persistent itch won't go away, my silent companion all these years through my academic and clinical sojourn. Indeed, even as my professional training seemed good enough, I realized it was time to move forward with intentionality. It was time to stop being that good dentist to become a great one. My decision to return to school as a graduate dental student almost fifteen years after first becoming a dentist was by no means an easy process. It took me out of my comfort zone, necessitated deep soul searching, spiced with moments of self-doubt and demotivation. And yes, plenty of nights burning the midnight oil. I drew courage for my back-to-school journey from what I unearthed by scratching that itch - the reality of knowledge gaps that must be closed. In my mind, gaining the requisite knowledge to excel in my field was how I held myself accountable to the high standards I also expected of others. I needed to get back to the trenches of dental education to learn, relearn and unlearn in a world-class dental school. There was no looking back once I embraced the work I had to get done. Despite the seeming roadblocks, passing on top-notch skillsets to the next generation of dentists remains my passion while serving patients with excellence. In this era of globalization, being from a developing country is no more a tenable excuse for falling behind in our craft. The world of dentistry is replete with cutting-edge skills amidst innovations at breakneck speed, and the onus lies on every clinician to continuously build upon existing academic and clinical competencies. A starting point will be to outgrow, through intentional learning, the mediocrity of dental practice that is heavily reliant on the palliation of patient symptoms for fear of going out of our depth. I chose to get rid of the itch I once carried around to pursue professional excellence. I will walk the walk.
    Bold Longevity Scholarship
    "Balance" is the single word that comes to mind when I think about how to live long in good health. Making balanced life choices is a great way to play the hand we are dealt by fate and genetics as we take charge of our health and lives. Therefore, a keen sense of moderation is crucial as we navigate life and engage our multiple human dimensions, including our mind, body, and spirit. As we do this, maybe someday that still-elusive elixir of life will reveal itself to us. In my opinion, healthy living happens from the inside out. Hence, we need to intentionally deepen our emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and self-awareness to maintain our overall health. A balanced attitude towards our physical and psychological environment improves human relationships, non-human connections, and general life outlook. Not least, we should remain open to lifelong learning and never lose that childlike sense of wonder and compassion....because it works wonders for our health. Nurturing our spirituality brings a deep sense of centredness and resilience, making us steadfast in the face of life's curveballs. We call this faith in Christianity. Having balance and harmony in our spiritual pursuits keeps us joyful, thankful, hopeful, and content. These emotions promote our general health. In my experience, nurturing my spirituality means maintaining a deep connection with my spiritual source through meditation, heartfelt prayers, and loving others as I love myself. Our body houses our mind and spirit. Research shows that activities that are good for our body also support our mental and spiritual health and vice versa. Not surprisingly, sufficient rest, physical exercise, relaxation, and healthy diets improve overall well-being and longevity. Lastly, even as negative energies and stress sometimes show up, having a balanced reaction to them makes all the difference in preserving our health and, hopefully, longevity.
    Bold Self-Care Scholarship
    I woke up with chills. Even as I lay in bed, my feet felt heavy as lead while my head pounded. In my initial attempt to get out of bed, I failed miserably. Instead, I screamed as severe pain washed over me in rapid waves when my feet tentatively hit the ground. Eyes closed to regain my composure, I whispered quick prayers between sobs. I was not going to die, no, not today. I knew malaria symptoms when I saw them. Apart from being endemic in my country, I had resisted this particular malaria attack for days. Anyhow, malaria was done standing down. With my plans for the week suddenly upended, my energies and resources were redirected to swiftly restore my health. Fast-forward to two weeks later, and a colleague asks my motivation for practicing yoga. I recounted in detail my recent malaria episode to him. Then added that yoga was one of the self-care practices that substantially helped me fend off such sicknesses, and then some. To me, self-care transcends feel-good practices to the proactive decisions I daily make for the health of my mind, body, and spirit, from restful sleep to mindfulness. It includes my daily journaling, meditation, breathing, physical and mental exercises. Food is not left out, including what, when, and how I eat. I also keep engaged with and nurture my environment, including my human and spiritual connections, while operating life's principles of give and take. The impacts of intentional self-care practices literally keep it all together for me, consistently sustaining my well-being and essence. Self-care continuously renews my health, positive outlook, joy, energy, motivation, invincibility, and spirituality. Lastly, on the rare occasion that a bout of malaria or other illness slips through my defenses, I have my self-care practices to help me bounce right back.
    Bold Giving Scholarship
    "Don't you know you are the mother of this house when your mum is not here"? This question was a regular refrain from my grandma to little me. You see, "mother of the house" was my de-facto role as a first-born girl to parents living in a multi-generational household in Nigeria. The phrase refers to that woman who shares without expectations of acknowledgment or reward. She always puts her family's interests ahead of hers and does so cheerfully. Such were my childhood memories of imbibing a lifestyle of giving. As I matured into an independent woman, my understanding of giving evolved, broadened, and became more nuanced. I now partake in charity as an integral part of my emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being, beyond a role bestowed by culture or norms. These days, I enjoy giving for the joy and depth it brings to my life and as a tool to uplift my community. And yes, I learned to be strategic about it. I recognize that giving is not always about money. Sometimes life's intangibles, such as goodwill and time, are even more precious. Hence, I daily give of myself through carefully selected thoughts, attitudes, words, energies, and actions. As a result, giving may involve holding back while living more sustainably as I endeavor to leave my world a better place. When I fall short, I try to make amends. Lastly, I give back as a dentist and volunteer by providing free dental care and education during community outreaches. I share knowledge with my colleagues while mentoring and coaching. Furthermore, I serve in advocacy groups and contribute articles to an online newspaper to push for government reforms. I am constantly aware that my primary calling is to spread divine love, so I live intentionally to serve this purpose by giving.
    William M. DeSantis Sr. Scholarship
    Go easy, my dear, don't use too much force, my mum would gently remind me as hot sweat dripped down my brows, back and chest. My petite frame would heave as I repeatedly struck the pestle, which was about my height, against the mortar, and steam billowed upwards toward me. As I said the last time, mum would continue, ensure you touch on all the pieces the first time you go round, before starting again. Then repeat. Do not leave any yam piece untouched because the "seediness" comes from there. Oh, how I eagerly wanted to impress in the kitchen with my yam-pounding abilities as a young girl. However, it turned out there was a learning curve to producing steamy hot, non-seedy, yummy pounded yam. Years after successfully learning the rudiments of pounding boiled chunks of yam to perfection, I reflected upon the far-reaching lessons to be found in preparing this Nigerian delicacy. As I grew in wisdom, it became clear that the pounded-yam strategies taught me as a young girl were also applicable to personal character development. We just cannot leave areas "untouched" and expect it not to cause "seediness" in the final product - our character. Many great people have fallen to infamy over that area of their personality which they failed to touch with life's pestle of character-building. Daily, I try to "go round" every aspect of my character with practiced and careful mindfulness. Periodically, I carry out a more holistic evaluation of my character growth with the help of my coach, family, and mentors. This has helped me steer my life in synchrony with my vision. Hence, I mostly do not get lost along the way...and when I do, I can retrace my steps with the help and love of my support system. My pounded yam lessons of so many years ago have helped me consistently build strength of character over time. And as mum constantly reminded, I learned to go easy on myself, as sometimes, the battles of life are not won by the strong. Pounded yam eaten with your choice soup is a much-loved delicacy in my part of the world. As a teenager, I quickly learned to repeatedly churn out smooth, moist, and cohesive pounded yam. However, unlike learning to correctly pound boiled yam, I find that our learning never stops in the arena of personal or character development. As we travel this life journey, we may encounter stumbling blocks or uncover truths that are difficult pills to swallow. Regardless, the onus lies on us to never stop being open to learning ways to become a better version of ourselves. Because when all is said and done, the willingness to better ourselves by developing our self-mastery and personal leadership may be the key to opening doors of endless possibilities.
    Bold Growth Mindset Scholarship
    Consistently taking an honest, no-frills, bird's eye view of my life's journey, stopping to chart a new path if the current road no longer serves me, and persevering to my destination is one way I keep a growth mindset. Little wonder that fifteen years after becoming a dentist, I return to undergraduate dentistry in another country to pursue professional excellence. My well-nurtured resilience gives me the courage to make such a commitment, tethered to my constant vision of excellence. The fact that growth can be painful is a reality I accept and embrace as I strive towards my life's vision and goals. Yes, plans sometimes fall through. Yet, the sweet savor of every victory won on the back of determination makes it all worthwhile. I reinforce my growth mindset by constant introspection while learning valuable lessons and perspectives from everyone. Again, I glean valuable insights to bounce back from setbacks during retrospection, which I stow away in my "growth mindset toolkit." Furthermore, gratitude is an attitude I deliberately cultivate as I face life's challenges. In days of adversity, I encourage myself with a thankful heart as I remember instances when my loved ones and I overcame seemingly impossible obstacles. This outlook, I find, creates a self-reinforcing mental loop that feeds my tenacity. Last but not least, I learned to intentionally rely on family, communities of love, mentorship and, accountability. When unmotivated, a pick-me-up from those who love and support me provides energy to steer me back on track. Hence, maintaining a healthy emotional life and support system invigorates my growth mindset. Thankfully I never lost that unquenchable, childlike curiosity that makes me regard life's hurdles as fun opportunities for learning and achieving breakthroughs. This attitude has helped me in no small way, as I power on through life.
    Bold Gratitude Scholarship
    Thoughts of it begin to blossom in my mind as I stir into wakefulness every morning; Usually, I lay with my eyes closed and deliberately focus on it, recalling as many instances that my befuddled brain can evoke. Then I get on my knees for some minutes and give thanks for it before I put on my reading glasses, pick up my pen, and journal my thoughts concerning it, in that order. The "it" I am talking about is living with intentional gratitude. Waking up every morning is a massive deal to me, and waking to a healthy, functional body is lovely too, yet when I wake up with the occasional ache or pain, I remain grateful as I know it could be worse. Having a family that cares about me, neighbors, a job to go to, colleagues, a local community to be involved in, and functioning within these contexts with emotional stability leaves me awed at how blessed I am. To me, gratitude remains a cornerstone attitude with which I proudly adorn my outlook daily. You see, I find that focusing my mind on the things I am grateful for unleashes my superpowers. I deliberately think about all the small and big things that I have going for me, as this opens my mind to the boundless hope and energy needed to do and be more. Not least, I show appreciation to the giver of every good thing I have by sharing my essence and resources with intentionality. My demonstrable thankfulness extends not only to the people whose paths cross mine but to the other gems mother nature has sprinkled all around. For me, deliberately showing gratitude by paying it forward to ensure a balanced world keeps the tap of blessings in my life continuously open, quite literally.