“This Degree is for My Parents”

Anna Adjei portrait

Michelle McCarthy


09 May 22

Ostrow graduate Anna Adjei DDS ’22 says Commencement will be a family affair.

NO MATTER HOW BUSY Ostrow student Anna Adjei DDS ’22 is, her mother and father are never far from her mind. In fact, with graduation day a stone’s throw away, the first-generation college student says, “This degree is for my parents. They worked multiple jobs to provide for me.”

“They’re my inspiration — seeing where they came from,” she says. “I made myself a promise a long time ago to establish a high standard of excellence in life. I never want my parents’ hard work and sacrifice to be in vain. They’re my role models.”

But Adjei almost didn’t become a dentist. Initially, she had dreams of becoming an OB-GYN. But when she signed up for a YMCA summer program that paired high schoolers with professionals in their field of interest, there wasn’t an obstetrician available — but there was a dentist. “The closest thing they thought of was dentistry because it’s in the health field, even though it has nothing to do with babies,” she says, with a laugh.

“What I loved about dentistry was that it combined art and medicine,” Adjei says. “And I wanted a good work-life balance because my parents always had to work, so I barely got to see them.”

USC’s Familial Environment

While living in Charlotte, N.C. (by way of Ghana), Adjei was introduced to USC while attending an Increasing Diversity in Dentistry event in Atlanta. “USC gave off a familial ambiance and made me feel like I would be supported,” she recalls.

At Ostrow, Adjei hit the ground running, devoting time not only to her studies, but to community service and student organizations. She volunteered at the USC Mobile Dental Clinic, served as co-president of the Student National Dental Association and was Associated Student Body (ASB) vice president of internal affairs for her class during her second year and ASB president for the program the following year. The hard work paid off, as Adjei has earned several scholarships and awards, including the Clifton O. Dummett Community Dentistry Award and the DDS Graduating Class Inspirational Award.

Learning through the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for all students, but Adjei likes to see the positive side and says the experience encouraged her to be more creative in how she provides care to patients. “That’s definitely going to help us in the real world, because we’re not always going to be put in an ideal situation,” she says.

Overall, Adjei’s training at Ostrow has prepared her to be a confident and competent practitioner. “They taught us to not accept subpar work,” she says. “From the get-go, we were taught to evaluate our work and never settle for less.”

If Adjei could offer advice to Black students considering a career in dentistry, she’d want them to know the field has so much to offer. “If you’re interested in aesthetics and veneers or surgery, there’s so much to learn.” 

After graduation, Adjei will head to the orthodontic residency program at Roseman University of Health Sciences in Nevada to continue her education. 

“My parents are extremely excited about graduation day,” she says. “My mom has been talking about it nonstop. They can’t wait.”


Recent news