Student Spotlight: GSDM Students’ Social Media Pages are Expanding Representation – One Post at a Time

Photo of Dolapo Adeola and Elias Hilaire
Elias Hilaire DMD 25 (left) and Dolapo Adeola DMD 24 (right) use their social media channels to highlight their experiences being a young dental student of color and guide the next generation of dental students. Photo Credit: Dan Bomba, GSDM

Getting accepted into dental school is a daunting task; for students of color, it’s even more challenging. The number of Black and African American students admitted into dental school has increased between 2000 and 2019, but they continue to make up a disproportionately small percentage of students, according to the Journal of Dental Education. Following graduation, the American Dental Association reported that only 3.8 percent of U.S. dentists identify as Black 

Dolapo Adeola DMD 24 and Elias Hilaire DMD 25 both followed unconventional paths to GSDM and worked hard to overcome personal hardships and the odds against them. After they were accepted to dental school, they felt an obligation to document publicly on social media their unfiltered personal stories, sharing their unique experiences about being a young person of color in the dental field to help support and encourage the next generation of dental students.  

“I have had [predental students] say a lot that they really appreciate my vulnerability because I think a lot of dental students don’t really tell people their failures,” Adeola said. “[Dental students tend to] just jump to ‘I got in and I had this great GPA and I had this great DAT.’ But I think a lot of the predentals really like my transparency in that I wasn’t doing well in chemistry, I failed chemistry, I had to retake my DAT. I had a lot of things going on that made this journey a lot more difficult, but I still got in and this is how you can do that as well.”  

Dolly D.M.D 

Photo of Dolapo Adeola DMD 24
Photo Credit: Dan Bomba, GSDM

In May 2020, Adeola posted her college graduation photos to her Instagram @DolllyDMD with the news that she would be attending GSDM later that summer. After posting, her direct messages were flooded with questions from predental students asking her how she got accepted.  

She previously had thought about creating a YouTube channel to document her move to Boston and her dental school experiences for her family back in Nigeria. The questions in her inbox were the push she needed, and her YouTube channel, Dolly D.M.D., was born to take her family – and the interested predental students – on her latest adventure.  

“Personally, I didn’t meet my first Black dentist until I was 19 years old,” she said. “It gives the [predental students] motivation. Not only is it someone who looks like them, it’s someone who had to overcome adversities and things that a lot of predentals are struggling with, struggling through their basic sciences, struggling to get through their DAT, struggling to present themselves as a strong applicant, even with setbacks.”  

A major part of Adeola’s brand is showcasing how she balances being a predoctoral student and being a young adult in a new city. She wants to prove that it is possible to prioritize education while also enjoying young adulthood. She has posted about concerts, pumpkin picking, attending the Goldman Gala, and everything else in between.  

“I just think it’s really important to share that my life is not stopped,” she said.  “I’ll be 25 at the end of the month and I’m still a fun 25-year-old while balancing my responsibilities.”  

Off-screen, Adeola uses her channels as a platform to mentor interested dental school applicants. Through direct messages, emails, and YouTube comments, inquisitive predental students will ask for Adeola’s distinctive dental student perspective on their stats, as well as tips for application process and assistance editing their essays.  When she has time, she offers one-on-one Zoom meetings for direct feedback. While Adeola is not an admissions professional, she does have firsthand experience with the process that could be invaluable to other predental students. (For an admissions professional’s perspective, prospective students may also be able to receive guidance from Admissions officers at the schools to which they intend to apply.) 

“I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to answer a lot of the questions that I feel like I didn’t have answers to when I was going through it,” she said.  

Beyond her hands-on assistance, Adeola paid out of her own pocket to launch her first giveaway in December 2021 to help provide financial assistance to one of her lucky followers. After a follower liked, shared, tagged two friends and commented on the giveaway post about how they can give back during the holiday season, one winner was selected to receive a fully paid DAT bootcamp subscription, a $497 value for 90 days of access to materials, to prep for the dental admission test.  

Adeola took this same prep course when she was applying to dental school, and she found it invaluable in helping her prep for the DAT — a critical part of the dental school application. With the giveaway, she wanted to help alleviate the financial burden for one of her followers to have access to the same course that helped her. For the post sharing the giveaway, she picked a short, community inspired prompt to encourage an uplifting dialogue in the comment section.  

“I didn’t want to create more obstacles for them but, I did want them to really think about how, in the field of dentistry, it’s not just about the actual dentistry,” Adeola said. “I want people that are coming into this field to know that it’s important about how you relate to your community and how you care about people.” 


Student Doctor Eli 

Photo of Elias Hilaire DMD 25
Photo Credit: Dan Bomba, GSDM

When Hilaire was an undergraduate student pursuing a pre-med track, he noticed that fewer than 10 of the 200+ students in his biology lectures were Black. It was challenging for him to see a lack of representation in the medical field, so he went searching on YouTube to find someone with a similar story. 

He initially found Dr. Antonio J. Webb’s YouTube channel: a Black orthopedic surgeon who made video blogs about his medical school and residency experiences. When Hilaire changed from pre-med to pre-dental, he found another channel, Future DDS, featuring two Black dental students, now graduates from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Tyler Brown and Dr. Tyrell Fridie, who gave predental students advice on everything from how to pass the DAT to what extracurricular activities look good on a resume.  

Before he was accepted into dental school, Hilaire had the idea of starting his own YouTube channel that combined the day-to-day storytelling from Webb’s channel, the helpful tips and tricks from Future DDS, and highlights from his own unique background. Since Hilaire took a non-traditional path to dental school, completing a few years of research and a post-baccalaureate program before being accepted to GSDM, he realized his story may help others, leading to the start of his YouTube Student Doctor Eli in April 2021.  

“I did see a need in the community for someone like me,” Hilaire said. “I just figured the best way to find the content that you think you’re really looking for is to just make it yourself. If you think it’s something that you’re looking for, it’s probably something that other people are looking for.”  

On his channel, he posts a wide variety of content, ranging from informational sit-down videos, live study sessions, and dental school/residency vlogs. He wanted a balance between disseminating helpful information and documenting his life because he thought people wouldn’t care about his professional input if they didn’t know the real him.  

“Of course, people are looking for the information, but people are more drawn to you if they feel like they can relate to you, or if they feel like they know something about you, and they’re not just looking at a random figure on a screen,” Hilaire said.  

In one of his most popular videos, Hilaire discusses the actions he took to improve his application including retaking an undergraduate chemistry class, completing a postbaccalaureate program, and focusing on getting a high score on the DAT. 

“I could see from the engagement how necessary it is or how many people needed that video,” he said. 

Overall, Hilaire does not worry about oversharing his life on his YouTube; he takes pride in showing his authentic self.  

“To me, it’s just being myself,” he said. “And I mean, if you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t.” 

Taking it to the Next Level 

Today, Adeola has expanded her content to include personal and professional milestones. She is currently taking a break from YouTube informational videos and is focusing time on her other channels. Her TikTok, @DolllyDMD, is mainly for “funny memes” about dental school, while her Instagram gives an intimate snapshot of her daily life.  

Hilaire’s YouTube channel remains his main social media focus – now hitting 2,300 subscribers. He posts approximately one video a week. He uses his Instagram @_bookofeli and TikTok @_bookofeli  primarily for personal use and to promote upcoming YouTube videos.   

As for the future of their social media channels, both want to expand on ways they can best assist and mentor their dental peers. Hilaire said he wants to use his YouTube monetization earnings to fund giveaways to pay for dentals school applications and scholarships. Since his channel became monetized in November 2022, he started a pre-dental scholarship to pay for one student’s first dental school application in the latest application cycle, an approximately $250 value. Eventually, he wants to start a scholarship to pay for a full year of one dental student’s tuition.  

“I always told myself that any money that I make from YouTube will be reinvested into [the dental] community,” he said.  

The key thing Hilaire said he wants to continue making sure he is doing with his platform is demonstrating his realistic day-to-day life as a Black male dental student.  

“I think it is important that I myself am on that platform just to show the people that look like me that it’s possible, and also that you don’t have to be a 4.0 student, or a valedictorian at your college in order to get here.”  

In addition to reviving her giveaways, Adeola said she wants to create a formal structured mentorship program where she can keep editing essays and provide one-on-one discussions at no cost. No matter how her channels progress, the core of her platforms will remain the same: being a positive representative for people of color trying to enter the dental profession.  

“My success to me is so crucial because there are people looking up to me that are motivated by seeing me work really hard,” Adeola said. “When I’m having these really difficult days in clinic or when I’m feeling really overwhelmed or wanting to drop out because I’m so stressed, I just have to remind myself that it’s like it’s not about me anymore. There are people whose futures are dependent on seeing you succeed.”

Follow Adeola at her YouTube channel
Dolly D.M.D., Instagram @DolllyDMD, and TikTok @DolllyDMD.

Follow Hilaire at his YouTube channel Student Doctor Eli, Instagram @_bookofeli and TikTok @_bookofeli



By Rachel Grace Philipson