Osmosis News

How Osmosis Scholarship Winner Ashly Okoli Opens Her Arms as a Future Dentist

Osmosis Team
Published on Dec 21, 2020. Updated on Dec 27, 2020.

We’re pleased to shine a spotlight on Osmosis’s caring community of future health professionals this week with interviews with all six of our 2020 Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship winners! Today, meet winner Ashly Okoli, a student at Texas A&M University College of Dentistry who really showed us how she plans to embody the Osmosis value of “Open Your Arms”in her clinical practice. Check out Ashly’s full video on our scholarship page, or scroll down to the bottom of this article to watch it!

How did you hear about the Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship?

My dear friend found the scholarship and thought I represented the core values and she recommended I apply. 

What was your Osmosis Scholarship application process like? 

The scholarship application process was unlike any other because this was the first time I submitted a video for entry into a scholarship. The application itself was easy to access and straightforward to fill out. I was grateful for the option to submit the video via Google Drive because it made it easy to upload. 

It’s clear that you Open Your Arms, but if you had to choose another Osmosis Value, which one would you pick, and why? 

 If I had to choose another Osmosis Value, I would pick “Imagine More.” To me, imagine more embodies seeking greater potential in learners. While I accept all my students where they are, I encourage them to do their best so they may reach their best. My ability to imagine more for my students is what drives me to help them harness the power in their stories so they can harness the power within themselves.   

Can you share a specific example of how your Dear Dental Students program has had an impact for a participant? This is something our learners would love to hear more about! 

I’d love to share some examples!

One student remarks, “Thank you so much for the email. You have no idea how much it means to me. I appreciate everything you have done for us. Not only are your tutoring sessions helpful, you go over the time limit and encourage us every step of the way. It’s such a good feeling to have someone cheering you on when you need it most. I am incredibly blessed to have met you and have the opportunity to be a part of the class.” 

Another student did not want to apply for dental school because she began losing hope (this would be her second time applying). I offered her guidance on how to improve her application and encouraged her to try again. She recently got her first interview to dental school! We both shared some tears. It was quite a rewarding moment. 

We loved hearing about your dream of opening a hybrid dental care and community centre. This is a really unique idea. What inspired you to bring all these things together under one roof? 

 While in college, I worked as a camp counselor at a community recreational center for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The position was equally fun and fulfilling, and I wondered how I would be able to work in a similar setting later in life. Pediatric dentists are pillars in communities as children will often visit their dentist more than their physician. An office within a recreational center allows me to improve the oral health of children in my community while giving them the opportunity to explore life through activities they would not be able to do otherwise. 

If you could do one thing different on your journey to dental school, what would you change? 

 If I could do one thing differently on my journey to dental school, I would change how obsessive I was about getting here in the first place. I often ruled out activities that I would have enjoyed if they did not directly align with my pursuit of dentistry. In reflection, I denied myself of activities that would have enriched my experiences in undergrad.  

How does it feel to have won an Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship? Anyone you want to shout-out or give thanks to? 

 I am honored to have won an Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship. I give the glory to God, and I give the greatest shout-out to my dear friend Melody because she introduced me to the scholarship and encouraged me to complete it as the due date approached.  

How has COVID-19 impacted your studies, and what advice do you have for students navigating these circumstances?

 Due to COVID-19, my school’s clinic was closed. Learning clinical dentistry requires in person experiences that were obviously halted. It was challenging to feel like I could not improve in my clinical skills. For any student navigating these circumstances, I want to remind you that in practice of your healthcare professional, there will be unknowns and uncertainty and moments like this shape your adaptability. In these moments, you don’t have to look at the cup as half empty (overwhelmingly negative) or half full (overwhelmingly positive). You can be neutral and recognize that it’s a cup and it has water, and that is okay. 

About Ashly

Ashly Okoli is a fourth-year dental student at Texas A&M University College of Dentistry, where she is also enrolled in a Master’s in Education for Healthcare Professionals. She will begin residency in pediatric dentistry next year, and looks forward to being challenged, building relationships with families and listening to all the funny things the kids have to say. In her free time, Ashly loves lifting weights at the gym and being on FaceTime with her friends. Rumor has it her name is spelled “Ashly” instead of “Ashley” because her brother (who was 6 at the time) named her, and that is how he spelled it. 


Interested in applying for the Osmosis Health Education Impact Scholarship? As part of the process, we ask for a video telling us how you plan to embody one of the six Osmosis values in your clinical practice. You just might win one of six scholarships on offer: one $5,000 prize and five $1,000 scholarships are available. Applications will reopen in 2021!