Pirate dental student earns inaugural Osborne scholarship

Alexis Lollis ’21, a first-year student at East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine, has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Colin Osborne Jr. Scholarship.

Named in honor of North Carolina native Colin Porter Osborne Jr., D.D.S., the scholarship awards an annual grant to a student to further their dental school education at ECU.

Alexis Lollis, a first-year student at East Carolina University's School of Dental Medicine, has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Colin Osborne Jr. Scholarship.

Alexis Lollis, a first-year student at East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine, has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Colin Osborne Jr. Scholarship. (Contributed photo)

“Dental school is expensive and being awarded this scholarship will certainly ease the financial burdens over these next four years,” Lollis said. “I’m so grateful to the Osborne family for their generosity. It is an honor to be the first recipient at the School of Dental Medicine.”

Based on academic merit and financial need, the scholarship supports aspiring dental students from Bladen, Columbus, Robeson and Scotland counties in hopes they will return to the area to serve the community.

After being accepted into the program, Lollis sought opportunities to help lessen the financial strain that dental school can carry. She learned about the scholarship and immediately applied.

“Growing up in Robeson County, I was drawn to ECU because it felt like home. I pursued my undergraduate degree in public health and chemistry, and when it came time to select a dental school, I knew without a doubt that ECU’s School of Dental Medicine was where I was meant to be. The environment, the camaraderie and the education that the school offers are what makes it unique,” Lollis said.

Osborne Jr. served the greater Lumberton community as a member of First Baptist Church, the Robeson Baptist Association, Kiwanis and, most significantly, through his private dental practice from 1947 until his passing in 2000. Throughout his career, Osborne was involved with Southeastern Dental Society, the Fifth District and the North Carolina Dental Society, including serving as president in 1968-69. He served on the Board of Examiners in the mid-1970s. Osborne Jr. was a Fellow in the American College of Dentistry and the Academy of General Dentistry as well as a member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

He pursued his private pilot’s license, which afforded opportunities to travel by air to dental meetings in cities around North Carolina. He was passionate about his community and profession — ultimately inspiring two of his children and one of his grandchildren to pursue careers in dentistry.

The scholarship was established in 2021 by the Osborne family to honor Osborne Jr.’s legacy.

And just like his father before him, Colin Osborne III — a second-generation dentist dedicated to the Lumberton community — has given back in countless ways over the years.

Osborne III received his doctorate in dental surgery in 1972 from the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. He entered the Peace Corps and served through the Faculdade de Odontologia in Bauru, Sao Paolo, Brazil. He returned to North Carolina a few years later and ultimately joined his father’s dental practice in Lumberton. Over the years, Osborne III and his wife, Glenda, have volunteered to provide dental services through the N.C. Baptist Association – treating many patients on their mobile dental vehicles.

Osborne III was introduced to the ECU SoDM through the Robeson County Community Service Learning Center in Lumberton, and since then has supported the center as a generous donor and member of the board.

“Dr. Osborne’s generosity opens doors for talented students from Robeson County and the surrounding counties to access a quality dental education and potentially return home to practice after graduation,” said Margaret Wilson, vice dean of the ECU SoDM. “This scholarship will also benefit future patients. Having a regionally based dental school scholarship not only offers opportunities for students, but also is a direct solution to the shortage of dentists in this area.”

ECU is in the public phase of the Pursue Gold campaign to raise half a billion dollars. This ambitious effort will create new paths to success for Pirates on campus, across the country and around the world. Donor gifts will keep ECU constantly leading and ready to advance what’s possible. Learn more at pursuegold.ecu.edu.