At this year’s Annual Session, Justina Anigbo was elected to serve as ASDA’s president for the 2022-2023 term. Anigbo, a student at Indiana University School of Dentistry, made history with her appointment, becoming the first African American woman to serve in this position. With a long history of ASDA leadership at the District 7 and chapter levels, she is looking forward to what the year will bring. Here, she gives us an inside look at her day-to-day and shares what we can expect during her tenure as president.
ASDA Blog: What does a typical day look like for you?
Justina Anigbo: A typical day for me starts off around 6 a.m. if I’m going to attempt to go to the gym. (It’s 6:30 if I feel like having a lazy morning.) I always try to have some time for myself to pray, to meditate and to sit with my thoughts. I like to look at the day and think of all the things I want to accomplish. And after that, I go to class, see patients and usually attend an event for a student organization.
After school, I always make sure I talk to a family member at least once a day. So, I call my mom, my sister, or one of my brothers or cousins. And then I scour YouTube and find a recipe I can make with whatever is in my fridge. I make somebody like my significant other eat one of my meals, which are not always so delicious! I return to me-time at the end of the day, and then, of course, I end the day watching TV on the couch until I physically can’t keep my eyes open. And I do it all over again the next day.
How do you and the ASDA Board of Trustees work together? What is the group dynamic like?
I would describe the group dynamic as gosh darn vibrant and effective! They are some of the best communicators and the most authentic people I’ve ever met. We don’t always agree on everything, but we can effectively communicate those disagreements and come to a resolution every single time. I genuinely have a connection with everybody because we have the mutual desire to make this organization the best it can be.
I know you and the board have recently started the term. What have you been working on?
I am huge on interprofessional collaboration, diversity, equity, inclusion and mental health. My first order of business is reaching out to all the other student dental organizations to talk about these topics. I have conversations with them about their goals, their missions and potential collaborations this year.
You spoke passionately about wellness during your campaign. What do you personally do for wellness?
Self-care and wellness for me means allowing myself to relax. That means including times in my day to intentionally sit with myself, breathe and reflect. I allow myself to enjoy every single day in these moments. I’m only going to be president of this association for 365 days, so I want to cherish every day. When I’m able to pinpoint moments that have made me happy, it makes my soul shine.
Another thing I do is I work out. Not to reach a certain goal, but just to get the endorphins high, and I love it. I work out to feel energized. Sometimes I want to lay on the couch, and just spend three hours mindlessly watching TV. I allow myself to do that, too. I try not to put too many constraints on myself. I stick to a schedule while not being completely regimented. That is the way I practice wellness and allow myself to have those slower moments.
Many people were excited for you when you were elected. One of ASDA’s core principles is the priority of diversity and inclusion. As a woman and person of color, you inspire so many people. What is your message for people who want to do what you do?
People should be unapologetically themselves. I know for a fact that I would not be here in this position if I had tried to act like anybody else. Your personality and your different experiences bring so much value. They mean something to somebody else and to yourself. Being able to showcase that authentically is so much more valuable than any other accomplishment you have. Obviously, you have to do the work, too. Make sure you’re involved. Make sure you’re doing what you need to do to put yourself out there. But make sure to take that moment to be grounded and cross the next threshold as authentically as you can.
What can we look forward to during your tenure as ASDA president?
The biggest thing you can look forward to is watching an association refocus its efforts. The past two years, we’ve been so caught up with trying to support people through the pandemic. We’ve been helping people make this transition to a mostly virtual environment, back to in-person, and we’re going to look back at these past two years and think about when we as an organization were stripped down to our core and created newfound skills during the pandemic. We found out what mattered and what didn’t. That will center us moving forward. One thing you can be sure of is that your desires and your interests are at the heart of what we do. I think all members are going to be very impressed.
~ Ryan Lee, Texas-Houston ’23