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

Updated: Jul 19


Growing up in Iraq, my innocence and tranquility were shattered precisely in 2003, at the age of 16, as my city, Baghdad, Iraq, went to war. I had focused on dentistry as the profession I wanted to pursue for various reasons and my entire family stood behind me. Unfortunately, by the time I would have entered dental school in 2005 in Baghdad, one could hear bombs going off daily, and 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 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 inclination toward pediatric dentistry began 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 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 particular type of personality is required to be a pediatric dentist: compassionate, empathetic, kind, and dedicated to pursuing 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 now call home. 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 came true. I am also very much in love and have found the man I believe will be my life partner, a physician from the Middle East.


Voluntary work has always been a significant part of my life. I was an active member of the community health services in Jordan. At the same time, 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.


Through the August Medical Foundation (a not-for-profit organization) and the UNHCR, my significant other and I have been making trips back to Jordan to do what we can side by side in refugee camps (Azraq and Zaatari). After returning home from my visit to Iraqi and Syrian refugee camps, I vowed to do my level best to continue advancing in dentistry and distinguish myself as a dentist and a dentistry student, this time, pediatric. The children in these camps have 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 seen Turkey, Syria, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. My significant other and I see no end in sight for our family missionary dental/medical team outreach since political strife and war where we come from sadly show no sign of abatement. I am thrilled that dentistry is such a global profession. I treasure diversity as an Arab speaker from Baghdad and an Armenian woman who is fluent in Armenian, my mother tongue. Currently, I am working with XXXX Dentistry, putting the fundamentals I have learned to practical use, and honing my clinical and diagnostic skills. 70% of my patients are children between 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 relocating to XXXX as my significant other, 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 experiences as a volunteer and patient advocate have shown me the need for empathy, for reaching out to diverse patients in every state of health and empowering them to improve their situation.


I am now ready to move into a new role, become part of the next generation of pediatric dentists, and provide comprehensive dental care access for 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.


I appreciate your consideration,


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