A Kentucky State University alumna makes a difference in her community through her dental practice.

Aja Nichols, a 2001 graduate of Kentucky State, opened Lifestyle Dentistry in metro Atlanta in 2016 and uses her practice and skillset to serve the underserved.

In addition to her own practice, she works with a mobile-based dentistry service that travels to elementary and middle schools around the state to provide treatments to students in underserved areas.

“I understand that in my quest of running my own practice, I still won’t be able to help everyone,” Nichols said. “Mobile-based dentistry allows me to help those whom otherwise may never be able to make it to my practice. Although they service many elementary and middle schools across Georgia daily, I work with them on Fridays when my office is closed.”

Nichols also served in the Navy as a dentist.

“My experience in the Navy was pretty cool,” Nichols said. “I don’t come from a military family per se, but I do have family members who served.”

While she served as a dentist, Nichols said she was a sailor first and a dentist second.

“If the Navy needed me trained on shooting a 9mm pistol, I would be away from treating patients until gun range training was completed,” Nichols said. “If I needed to know how to function in a gas mask during a deployment, I would be training for that instead of treating patients.”

Nichols said she really wanted to start her own practice, which led to her decision to leave the Navy.

“It has been beyond fulfilling and I know this is only the beginning,” Nichols said.

Being in charge allows Nichols to spend time how she sees fit.

“I get to spend as much time as I’d like with my patients to cultivate a genuine relationship, I get to choose which procedures I desire to do and I get to choose which patients will be a good fit for this practice,” Nichols said. “I get to be in charge of the energy in my office, even though I still forget I’m the boss sometimes.”

After her experience at Kentucky State, in dental school, in the Navy and through owning her own practice, Nichols has sage advice for Kentucky State students.

“Learn the art of saving money. Learn the art of living on less than what you make,” Nichols said. “Don’t think you should automatically earn six figures as soon as you come out of school, there is so much to learn first. The money will come.”

Nichols also encouraged students to “get rid of the notion that you are going to please everyone who loves you.”

“Stop thinking everyone will like and understand you,” Nichols said. “Stop doing things for the approval of others.”

Finally, she added, “if you believe that you can do all things through Christ, do them.”

“Too often we ‘wait on God,’ when truly, He’s waiting on us,” Nichols said.