Duhawk Dozen | Bailey O’Brien (’16)

A 2016 graduate, Bailey O’Brien has achieved a great deal of personal and professional success in her short time since graduating. Not only does she own her own dental practice, but she spends her spare time serving as a Loras Alumni Ambassador, and mentor for current Duhawks in the healthcare field, on top of staying connected with her past roommates, classmates, and friends.

Bailey’s father, Tom O’Brien (’82), and cousin, Regan Takes (’15) attended Loras, and she grew up in Cascade, Iowa, so Loras was always at the forefront of her mind. However, she wasn’t sure until later in high school that Loras was the right fit for her college search. “I can tend to be indecisive,” she started, “but I knew I wanted to go somewhere with a great science program and after visiting Loras, I knew it was the perfect school for me.” Right away, it was the supportive faculty and staff that solidified her choice. Dr. Kate Cooper, professor of Biology, was one of the great influences during Bailey’s time at Loras. “I had done my research project with her, and her door was always open for anything that I needed help with.” In addition to her success in the classroom, she kept herself busy as a supplemental instructor, peer assistant, and employee in Mercy’s Emergency Department, and stayed involved in many extracurricular activities like Dance Marathon, now called DuThon. “We dedicated so much time to making a difference with Children’s Miracle Network, and I got to meet countless friends: it was an amazing experience to be a part of.”

While she had many rewarding on-campus experiences, Bailey also had the opportunity to travel to Honduras and China as part of travel courses and service work. “Those experiences and the people I got to go with really shaped me to be a better person,” she started. “Yes, you need the good grades but the experiences outside of the classroom set you apart from other applicants going into grad school or the workforce.”

Throughout her time at Loras, she needed to decide what track she’d like to pursue when it came time to go to graduate school. “I like to be hands-on,” she started. “As I thought about the four years of dental school as well as the combination of art and science– I knew that was the field I wanted to get into.” After graduating, she attended the University of Iowa for her doctorate degree and moved back home in 2020. “I decided to join my hometown dentist, it was a great opportunity that had presented itself to me,” Bailey said. After just one year there, she purchased the practice, a huge shift from Dentist to business owner. “Looking back, I am so glad that I did it and I know it’s going to be worth it.” With the support of her family and the whole Cascade community, she knew she had an incredible support system behind her.

Bailey has stayed connected with her friends and a core group of classmates regularly. “We stay in touch all the time. We make it a priority and even if we all can’t make it to every gathering – we get to see everyone go through milestones together like weddings and having babies.” Her connection to her Duhawk friends remains so strong because of their shared Loras experiences. “It’s easy to lose touch with everything going on in everyone’s lives,” she admitted. “It’s just as easy to send a text or to pick up the phone and make a call.” By prioritizing going to Homecoming, celebrating Duhawk Day, and making it to the big life events, their group of friends haven’t missed a beat from moving off campus. “I loved my experience at Loras because of the people and culture,” she started. “So, I make sure to celebrate other big moments of my life with those same people.”

Bailey truly embodies the Loras Dispositions in all that she does. Her great successes personally and professionally, as well as her tight-knit Loras network is what makes her March’s Duhawk Dozen.