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Iraqi Woman Dentist, IDP, Service to Middle-East Refugees

Updated: Mar 24

Now 24 years old and a permanent resident of the USA, I am a woman dentist from Iraq who has much to be thankful for. I first came to the America in 2016 and have lived here since 2017. I could not be more fully dedicated to lifelong learning; thus, I especially appreciate the advanced state of dentistry in the USA and the opportunities that exist for professional growth in my field. I look forward to a professional lifetime constantly learning about and practicing dentistry, with a special focus on the underserved. I hope to participate actively in contributing to research - giving my all and managing my time as efficiently as possible to maximize my contribution.

Working here in America as a Certified Dental Assistant for the past nearly two years is preparing me well to hit the ground running in your doctoral program for international dentists and distinguish myself as a fast and devoted learner. I have learned how to communicate with patients from a broad variety of backgrounds and social situations and I relish the diversity of America both in terms of its people and the broad range of oral health challenges that present themselves. I have had the opportunity to learn directly from a distinguished professor of dentistry here in the USA and especially appreciated his feedback on my performance. I served for months as a staff person in a dental office where three international dentists were serving and we developed a great sense of camaraderie which helped me to advance in my thinking and plans for the future, particularly about the area of dentistry in which I intend to seek further training once I earn my doctoral degree: Orthodontics. My skills in dentistry have improved a lot over the course of the last two years and I am well on my way to becoming fully acclimated to dentistry as practiced in America vs. Iraq. Every day, I learn new things about a wide range of procedures. The most important thing that I have learned is to never ever stop learning.

Born in Iraq, we moved to Egypt when I was three and spent 6 years there before moving home to Iraq in 2004, most unfortunately, at a time of widespread political strife and horrific levels of sectarian violence. The instability and fear around me made me naturally curious about political affairs and I have a good understanding of the entire Middle Eastern part of the world, having lived and studied not only in Egypt and Iraq but also Turkey for a full month and Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan for 3 weeks each. I look forward to being of special service to Arab speakers, immigrants, and most importantly refugees from the Middle East.

Devoted to painting and handicraft as a child and adolescent, I was well prepared for a career in dentistry in terms of manual dexterity as well as heart and soul. I especially excelled in dental school when it came to sculpting and waxing teeth. I continue to see the restoration of a tooth as much like the creation of a functional sculpture that serves to radically enhance the quality of life. Thus, I can think of no piece of art the creation of which could be more rewarding. This background helps to explain while I feel so passionately drawn to Orthodontics as a lifetime specialization.

As a dental student at the University of Al-Kufa, in Najaf, Iraq, I also engaged in a lot of volunteer work, making extensive journeys to remote and marginalized areas of the country, teaching the importance of oral hygiene to very humble families. We also provided treatment at volunteer camps, doing the best that we could with few resources and only simple instruments. I was always attending dental conferences meeting a comprehensive scientific program on the latest advances and researches in various specialties of dentistry presented by well-known and highly respected professionals sharing their experiences.

The political and economic system in Iraq places a very low priority on oral health care and this encourages ignorance among the people, who generally know next to nothing about their own oral health care needs, especially the popular classes. This situation made me highly motivated as a volunteer for organizations dedicated to spreading oral health awareness in Iraq. I have especially fond memories from my fourth year of dental school, when I served alongside a Canadian delegation at Dar Al-Zahraa, caring for orphans who had never before seen a dentist, treating children under the supervision of especially well- trained Canadian dentists.

I stutter, slightly. My friends and colleagues often assure me that they find it endearing. When I was a child, it was much worse, as I have worked to correct it my entire life. This issue has helped me to grow stronger over time, very focused, and also has enhanced my compassion for others who struggle with special challenges of one sort or another. I have never allowed my stutter to define me. Rather, I see it as one of the forces that has served to shape and inspire who I am today, giving my all to dentistry. My little sister, now 10 years old, also stutters. She looks up to me as a role model and I seek to continue to prove myself worthy of that honor.

I thank you for considering my application.

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