The disadvantages faced my myself and my family are largely a result of being Palestinian, a people expelled from their homeland by force, leading, for most, to great misery and suffering. I was born in Jordan to two parents who were both Palestinian refugees. Fortunately, we were able to immigrate to the US in 2000. Because it is our homeland, I feel a deep connection to Palestine, especially Jerusalem and Gazañ I still have lots of family there. I day-dream every day of going to Palestine as a dentist and treating those who have little-to-no access to dental care. My own disadvantaged status is the driving force behind my dream of returning to Palestine as a missionary dentist.
My father was born just one year before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and barely survived the ensuing Arab-Israeli War of that year. His father, my grandfather, was a police officer who was killed by the Israeli occupying force when my dad was 11 years old. Thus, overnight, my father found himself the primary wage earner for the entire family, at 11, helping to support his 4 younger siblings along with his mother. By the time that my father reached young adulthood, he was finally forced to flee Palestine for Jordan and live as a refugee as a result of the Six Day War in 1967. My father wanted very much to become a doctor but could not afford medical school in Jordan, ending up studying Economics in Lebanon.
My family was very fortunate to be able to immigrate to the USA in 2000. My parents left everything they had built in Jordan to come to the United States – thinking about the future education of their 5 children. Nevertheless, living in the USA was a great struggle for us for many years, for economic reasons. My father worked menial jobs at first and was then able to start up his own gas station which, however, failed - money was always tight. My father has been a great inspiration to me because he always struggled to provide us with economic stability and even went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the age of 65. My siblings and I have also struggled, along with my mother, supporting each other as a team.
I sometimes reflect on the difficult times that I went through and it drives me forward to persevere: the day I got my first job as a bus boy and felt tempted to eat the food left on the plate by the customers, working at a go-cart track to scrape together the extra money that I needed for school supplies. What money I was able to pull in helped with household bills, especially groceries. I remember looking around at my classmates in the rather affluent school that I attended, who had so much given to them, and I hoped that one day my children would enjoy similar comforts. I hope and pray that through my own hard work and dedication to my career, my children will not have to grow up as I did, constantly worrying about money and working much of the time when they should be studying or learning something of value.
I have volunteered numerous hours to help with the MTI mobile dental clinics that serve the underprivileged communities in our area, IMPACT XXU. I have taught teens with special needs and have engaged in these efforts to help the underserved in preparation for a lifetime of doing so, because this is what provides me with the greatest sense of satisfaction.
I hope to someday return to Palestine as a missionary dentist for long periods of time, teaching dentistry and helping with sustainable efforts to achieve access to dental care for even the poorest of Palestinians, a mammoth task in such a broken and devastated land which is under a blockade and regularly bombed from the air every several years, making the rebuilding of the country most difficult. It is this idea that makes me the most proud, of who I am, as an individual, as a Palestinian-American, and most of all, as the dentist that I hope so very much to become.
Being granted Disadvantaged Student Status for Dental School will enable me to complete the program and excel; and, at the same time, devote as much time as possible to helping the underserved and preparing for a lifetime of priority assistance to the underserved, while still in dental school and beyond. Nothing will bring me as much satisfaction in the future as helping refugees who made their way to the USA as we did, especially those fleeing war zones in the Middle East with whom I share a mother tongue, Arabic.