Making a Career of Giving Back: Dr. Oariona Lowe

Posted on: Monday, 12/17/2018

Dr. Oariona Lowe

You could say that giving back runs in Dr. Oariona Lowe’s family. For the UCLA pediatric dentistry alum, it was the memory of seeing her father give away clothing and shoes to families who couldn’t afford to buy them that stayed with her into adulthood. Early in her career, she provided free dental services to families at outreach events; a practice she continues today. That altruism has been passed down to her son, who has aspirations of starting a foundation to raise money for underserved communities.

In addition to her dental degree and two advanced training certificates, Dr. Lowe recently completed an executive master of public health degree from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Her background in public health has helped her develop educational and oral health programs with global organizations in underserved countries. Ultimately, she plans to put her public health knowledge to use by establishing a non-profit organization with her son.

Teaching was Dr. Lowe’s first passion. As an assistant professor at Howard University, she taught courses in health sciences for several years before wanting more of a challenge. Prompting from a colleague pushed her to apply to dental school at the same university where she taught. Juggling dental school and keeping her teaching position was the challenge she was looking for and one that would build the foundation for her life’s work—the promotion of oral health.

After completing her DDS degree from Howard University, she decided to pursue a general practice certificate at the Eastman Dental Center, University of Rochester Institute of Oral Health. While there, she met her husband, Dr. Evangelos Rossopoulos, a fellow dentist and a prosthodontist.

As a perpetual student, Dr. Lowe began looking into pediatric dentistry residency programs and selected UCLA. “I was attracted to the clinical experience that I would receive at UCLA. And the reality exceeded my expectations. There was a hospital dentistry component to the program that was beyond filling teeth and cleanings.”

After she received her pediatric dentistry certificate in 1984, Dr. Lowe worked for two years as the director of dental services at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California, treating medically compromised patients. “I used a lot of my UCLA training. It was a very intense position, but it was an experience that prepared me for private practice and allowed me to write and publish articles on oral health care for cancer patients.”

In 1987, Dr. Lowe joined forces with her husband, and the couple opened their first practice in Whittier, California. For Dr. Lowe, offering specialized services, such as sedation, for children with special needs was a top priority.

“As a pediatric dentist, I have always been interested in how to improve oral health through education, disease prevention, advocacy, and community involvement. I have been able to impact generations of families by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to manage their own oral health.”

Over the next three decades, the couple expanded their business to include practices in Corona, Hacienda Heights, and Huntington Beach. Throughout her career, Dr. Lowe pursued several other professional and personal endeavors. Along with her position as a California Dental Association Trustee and a Trustee for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Foundation, she is the immediate past-president of the Western Society of Pediatric Dentistry, past-president of the California Society of Pediatric Dentistry, board member of UCLA Friends of Pediatric Dentistry, board member of the UCLA Dentistry’s Board of Counselors, co-chair of the UCLA Children’s Dental Center Renovation Campaign, benefactor of the Dr. Oariona Lowe Endowed Scholarship, and member of UCLA Dentistry faculty. 

If you were to ask her how she has time for everything she’s involved in, she’ll tell you it’s because she’s passionate about being a mentor and a leader, and making sure that young professionals are given ample opportunities to learn. “Paying for college and all of my postgraduate work was a struggle, so my heart will always be in supporting students and helping them to reach their dreams.”