Olivia Nillissen


Hometown: Birnamwood, WI

Chapter: UNC Adams School of Dentistry

Graduation Year: 2023

Position Held At Chapter: President


How has ASDA helped you build your leadership skills?
Through my time in dental school and ASDA, I have had the opportunity to explore the numerous possibilities for how I might combine my curiosity, compassion, and creativity with my knowledge and smile to best serve people and make improvements in their lives through the profession of dentistry. I have had the privilege of attending multiple ASDA conferences, where I have become more competent in my leadership abilities, people skills, and business strategy, which will help me beyond the walls of dental school when I someday have a dental practice of my own. ASDA has not only helped me attain educational and professional goals but also taught me the importance of balancing business with fun, as ASDA truly is a welcoming family which “works hard and plays hard” together. These experiences and leadership opportunities through ASDA have all solidified my desire to be a dentist who always has an infectious smile on her face and provides others with smiles that last a lifetime.

What do you think is the most vital quality in a leader?
Life, just like dentistry, is all about perspective. A problem, a challenge, or even a tooth may just need to be looked at from a different direction to find a solution or find the positive in the situation. As a dentist, I cannot claim a smile is unfixable, but instead use my knowledge and creativity to find solutions or treatments to best provide care with the patient’s interest at heart. In dentistry and leadership, there is no such thing as an unsolvable problem, just learning experiences and new solutions waiting to be found and shared. Being a leader, I have learned the value of perspective and perseverance, and I strive to remain positive at all times, inspire others to search for solutions, and share an infectious smile with those around me, no matter what the situation may be.

Why should members get involved with ASDA leadership positions?
ASDA is not only a wonderful educational and networking resource for dental students, but also a way for them to get involved in organized dentistry at their school, community, district, and even national levels. Serving on both my District and chapter ASDA cabinets has provided me with numerous networking opportunities, through dental mentors and ADA leaders I have met. These connections have inspired me to make my own impact in the profession of dentistry, starting now as a student.

What future leadership roles in organized dentistry interest you and why?
Seeing the smiling, compassionate, encouraging, and driven students and mentors involved in ASDA and the ADA made me realize the value of organized dentistry in this profession and that it is something I desire to be a part of beyond dental school. As a dentist, I hope to be an active leader not only in my community, but beyond, as an active member in the ADA and a mentor who encourages others to pursue dentistry or what we know to be “the best profession”. In whatever role I serve within organized dentistry, it will be thanks in part to the people around me, and the support of ASDA who have helped guide me to where I am today and beyond. Though I do not have all the answers just yet, one truth that I know for sure — in my school, community, and career as a future dentist, I want to be someone always has a smile on her face, leads with exuberance, and shares my positivity with those around me.