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Iraqi Woman Pediatric Dentist Residency Program, Dental Volunteer in Syrian Refugee Camps

Updated: Mar 22

Growing up in Iraq, my innocence and tranquility was shattered precisely in 2003, at the age of 16, as my city, Baghdad, Iraq, went to war. For a variety of reasons, I had focused on dentistry as the profession that I wanted to pursue and my entire family stood behind me. Unfortunately, by the time that I would have entered dental school in 2005 in Baghdad, one could hear bombs going off on a daily basis, students and health workers were targeted; female students in particular were facing special and constant danger. We fled to Jordan.

I am pleased that with my the support of my family I was able to graduate from one of the most prestigious schools of dentistry in the Middle East, the University of Jordan. My inclinations toward pediatric dentistry started when I was a student at the University of Jordan. I was particularly intrigued by the opportunity to work with children and their families, answering their questions and fulfilling their needs. This experience brought up memories of my own pediatric dentist who always left me curious, asking a million questions as a little girl, all of which he answered joyfully. At that time I started to believe that a special type of personality is required to be a pediatric dentist: compassionate, empathetic, kind and dedicated to pursue this career as a vehicle to improve the quality of life of children.

As soon as I finished dental school in Jordan, I was on a plane to California, which I have called home since that time. Earning my DDS at XXXX in May of 2015, I became a permanent resident and licensed to practice dentistry in the State of California; my dreams have come true. And they continue to come true because I am also very much in love and have found the man who I believe will be my life partner, a physician who’s also from the Middle East.

Voluntary work has always been a major part of my life. I was an active member of the community health services in Jordan whilst I was a student at the University of Jordan and volunteered for events organized by the dental school. I especially enjoyed, for example, volunteering for the S.O.S, an organization for orphan children, and doing oral hygiene awareness campaigns at elementary public schools. Volunteering at S.O.S, in particular, reaffirmed my passion for helping children and laid the foundation for my dream of becoming a pediatric dentist.

My significant other and I, through the August Medical Foundation (a non-for profit organization) and the UNHCR, have been making trips back to Jordan to do what we can side by side in refugee camps (Azraq and Zaatari). After coming back home from my visit to Iraqi and Syrian refugee camps, I made a vow to do my level best to continue to advance in dentistry and continue to distinguish myself as a dentist and a student of dentistry, this time Pediatric. The children in these camps have very much reinforced my determination to pursue a lifetime specialization in Pediatric Dentistry. I feel a call deep in my bones for the children.

In addition to my own country and nearby Jordan, I have also gotten to see Turkey, Syria, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and New Zealand. My significant other and I see no end in sight for our own family missionary dental/medical team outreach since political strife and war where we come from sadly show no sign of abatement. I am very happy that dentistry is such a global profession, and I treasure diversity not only as an Arab speaker from Baghdad, but also as an Armenian woman who is fluent in Armenian, my mother tongue.

Currently, I am working with XXXX Dentistry, putting the fundamentals that I have learned to practical use, honing my clinical and diagnostic skills. 70% of my patients are children between the age of 3 and 18.

The University of XXXX is my first choice among distinguished programs because of the solid clinical program and research opportunities that the University of XXXX offers. Additionally, I’m in the process of relocating to XXXXs as my significant other, XXXX XXXX, lives and works there. Also, my sister and her family live and work in XXXX.

Perhaps most importantly, I have learned how to effectively lead and motivate teams that provide dental screening and treatment, working closely with children at XXXX Dentistry, I have developed meticulous skills to assess the scientific and social ramifications of oral disease and tooth decay in particular, along with its treatment and prevention. My personal experiences as a volunteer and patient advocate have shown me the need for empathy, for reaching out to a diversity of patients in every state of health and for empowering them to improve their situation.

I am now ready to move into a new role, to become part of the next generation of pediatric dentists, and to provide comprehensive dental care access for the children in need. I hope I can have the profound privilege of bringing my all to your especially distinguished institution at the University of XXXX, building relationships of trust with patients that will last a lifetime.

Thank you for your consideration,

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