Fresh Faces Fall 2022: Olga Loggale, DDS

17 October 2022

When Olga Loggale, ’21 BSc, was a small child, she visited the dentist once with a very painful cavity. She never really understood why that was one of only a small handful of dental appointments she had growing up, until she started university and met other first-generation immigrants, many of whom had also grown up the same way. She began to see that this was usually due to cultural differences and socioeconomic factors and knew that as a Black woman, she wanted to help change that. 

Loggale embarked on the DDS program this fall, and as an Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) award winner for community involvement, she brings a rich background in volunteering and community advocacy as well as a love of science to her future career.

What did it mean to you to receive your ECF award? 

I love community and giving back and just being involved. Receiving the award meant a lot to me — a promise to myself and my community that I would continue to use the privileges I have been awarded, such as access to education and ability to share resources, to uplift my community. As much as I love to volunteer and do these things, the reality in undergrad was that I was limited financially because I had to work to pay my tuition and that took up a lot of my time. This award significantly reduced my financial burden in my fourth year and gave me the opportunity to do things I would not have otherwise had the time to do and that is an immeasurable blessing.

What made you choose the University of Alberta for dentistry?

When I decided on dentistry, I spent a lot of time researching schools within and outside of Canada, spoke with dentists within the community, attended multiple dental school workshops, and even spoke to current students within different schools. From all of this, I quickly came to understand how highly evaluated the University of Alberta’s dental program was and it moved to the top of my list. 

What were your favourite undergrad courses, and how did they prepare you for dentistry? 

Anthropology 110 (Gender, Age, and Culture) and Physiology 403 (Neuroendoimmodulation). 

In the anthropology course, we examined the way that culture shapes individuals, and how gender and age are classified or what it means to be a man/woman of a certain age in a certain culture. This course really allowed me to consider how I view other cultures in relation to my own, and how to work to be more accommodating and genuinely accepting of others. I truly believe that this course will guide the work I do and allow me to give each and every patient the individualized care they deserve. This course was nothing short of phenomenal. 

For the physiology course, I really enjoyed it because I enjoy science, but also because it was integrative, combining neuroscience, endocrinology, and immunology. For me, it really reinforced how important it is to consider how systems are constantly working together. In relation to dentistry, I think this is crucial because the significance of oral health in overall well-being is often ignored. Even though dental insurance and care are provided separately, our bodies do not work separately. I believe it is so important to communicate the impact your oral health can have on every other system in your body. 

Why do you want to be a dentist?

The advocacy work I have done has shown me the difficulties of attempting to facilitate change from the outside and the potential for me to be a liaison between the oral health-care system and immigrant and minority communities. These communities often refuse to seek much-needed help for a variety of valid reasons, including cultural differences, and I believe my intersectionalities will allow me to address some of these barriers. My identity as a Black woman gives me the opportunity to connect with youth in my community who wish to follow similar paths but lack representation, or mentors that comprehend their unique experiences. I hope to bring perspectives and knowledge that may help other health-care workers demonstrate sensitivity to these differences, and thus help enhance oral health-care experiences. 

In shadowing multiple dentists and now being in the program, I have started to recognize many of the similarities that exist between community work and the dental profession. This includes the leadership required to fulfill tasks, the collaboration and relationships created with those around you, and the need for professionalism to maintain the integrity of yourself and the service you provide. In a way, I have already practised aspects of dentistry through my advocacy, and I cannot wait to be able to advocate for others through dentistry.

What are you most excited about as you get started on your degree?

I am so excited to be able to do clinical assisting in my very first year and get the opportunity to interact with upper years and patients, as well as see dentistry in action. I am also excited to be a part of another community. The School of Dentistry has been so welcoming, as have my classmates and the upper-year students, and it has really made all the difference. I know that I thrive when I am surrounded by and immersed in community and I am so excited to see myself and all my classmates morph into the wonderful dental professionals and health-care providers I know we will be.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges as you pursue your degree?

I know it is a pretty typical answer, but I think that as this program has quite a learning curve, navigating and balancing the workload will be challenging. I still want to be able to get involved in initiatives and outreach within the community, so accomplishing that while staying on top of my education will require a lot of hard work. However, I know that the two are not mutually exclusive and this program has multiple opportunities that will allow me to do both and I am very excited for that!

How do you unwind when you're not busy with your studies?

I am a big physical activity fan, so I try to do that whenever I have time. I love going to the mountains for hikes and in the summers I play rugby. If I am in need of something less taxing, I love to do puzzles or practise guitar. I’ve also recently gotten into anime and will watch that whenever I get the chance! I have been busy with studies for a really long time so I am still trying to figure out my downtime activities, but I am definitely trying to make it a point to indulge in them whenever possible throughout my time in this program!