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Dental School, Immigrant from Lebanon, STEM Peer Mentor

Updated: Apr 13

“EMT operator, what’s your emergency?” “My friend has just been struck by a vehicle and he is in critical condition.” “Is he breathing?” “I don't think so!” “Stay there; the paramedics are on their way." It all started on the night of January 25, 2008 in Beirut, Lebanon. My friend and I left the house to go out for dinner and never made it. Crossing the street, a black SUV came from what looked like nowhere at high speed, striking my friend and tossing him into the air. I felt completely helpless to help him, other than to make the call. When we arrived at the emergency room with my gravely wounded and battered friend, the doctor in charge was a maxillofacial surgeon who rushed him into surgery for severe nasal and oral fractures. My friend’s recovery appeared to me to be no less than miraculous at the time; and it is from this episode of my life that I date my passion for dentistry, especially maxillofacial surgery.

I began my full-time working life as a motor vehicle inspector, a job that required a combination of manual dexterity and precision. Bringing today’s exhaust systems up to standards means working in extremely cramped quarters, small spaces, assembling, manipulating small components. As I reflect on this experience, the hard challenges of the physical work, the ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, I realize that I acquired an unprecedented amount of valuable lessons that helped me to develop key qualities and skills that go in hand with competencies necessary for dentistry. By the time that I finished shadowing Doctor Hazem Wehbe, in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, I was fully convinced that dentistry was my destiny. He showed me the importance of communication and accountability, and I learned the ins and outs of patient intake procedures as well as having the opportunity to observe many different dental procedures from mouth fillings to full mouth reconstruction.

About a week into my shadowing, a middle-aged patient came into the office to have a broken tooth restored that had been causing her a good deal of distress. The procedure went smoothly. Afterwards, the patient burst into tears and thanked us over and over again as she looked into the mirror to see how her smile came back to life. It was at this moment that it all came together for me, joy, purpose, and service all intertwined.

I enrolled in rigorous science courses at Northern Essex Community College, where I began to develop a foundation in the sciences and enhance my analytical thinking. I also took advantage of numerous volunteer opportunities. Through the STEM Peer Mentoring Program, providing counseling services for prospective students, I served as a role model and worked one-on-one with new students, gaining a broad familiarity with the policies, procedures, and practices of the academic community.

I decided to transfer to Boston University to complete my undergraduate studies for a variety of reasons, most of all the strong pre-dental program. At BU, I studied Physics, Organic Chemistry, and Cell Biology during my Sophomore year. Not only was the course-load daunting, but I had to work to pay for most of my tuition and expenses. During my senior year, I received an email about joining the US Army as a prospective dentist professional. My primary inspiration for deciding to work towards a commission in the US Army as an oral healthcare professional, is to continuously learn, equip, and empower myself with the specific knowledge required in the USA army, which willl serve me well for the balance of my professional lifetime, opening doors and serving as platforms for career advancement. I keenly look forward to this opportunity, practicing dentistry in widely diverse settings—from disaster-stricken areas to foreign bases throughout the world, from small combat-zone temporary hospitals to state-of-the-art medical centers at home or abroad. Military physicians and dentists lead very full lives on their feet with large numbers of patients which is what I crave.

Being a prospective dental expert means that one must show a great deal of commitment towards his/her work and make the most of their time developing their skills over the course of this journey. I look forward to giving my all for the balance of my professional lifetime to the practice of dentistry, increasingly dedicating as much time as possible to helping the underserved, insofar as my circumstances allow, both at home and abroad, as my career progresses.

I thank you for considering my application.

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