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Residency Position in Orthodontics, Iraqi Woman

In addition to the fact that I will be graduating with honors next month, July, 2014, with my DMD Degree from XXXX University, I feel strongly that I am also a well-qualified candidate for advanced study and practice in the area of orthodontics because of the significant obstacles that I have overcome personally. I first began studying to become a dentist in my native city, Baghdad, Iraq. Still only 28, my city has been the scene of horrific and sustained levels of violence throughout my entire adult life. Since the US toppled Hussein in 2003, anywhere from hundreds to several thousand people have died each month, most of them non-combatants, and victims of terrorist attacks. A smile is exceptional in Baghdad and the great need of my people to learn to be proud of their smile in the face of such adversity and uncertainty, is an excellent reason why I chose to become a dentist devoting her life to building and perfecting a specialty in orthodontics.

“What color would you like this week?” my orthodontist asked me.  “Pink!” I said excitedly.  It was my first time getting the colored bands on my braces, and I wanted them to match the outfit I had on.  My orthodontist was kind and made me laugh.  I remember how he turned an excruciating and embarrassing thing, braces, into a magical time for me when I was still a child. I would sit and look in the mirror for hours, wondering if there was anything that I could do about my ugly teeth.  

When my mother took me to the orthodontist, my fascination with dentistry in general and orthodontics, in particular, began in earnest. I was immediately mesmerized, in particular, by the numerous devices, especially the electric ones. My orthodontist was very funny and told me jokes and made me laugh the entire time I was in his office.  The most important thing was that he made me feel comfortable, even with the color of my elastics.  I went to his clinic every three weeks for more than a year, and each time I went, I asked many questions.  My orthodontist was gracious enough to answer them all, and with each visit, my love for dentistry grew in leaps and bounds. 

Yet, by the time that I reached the University in Baghdad, Hussein had been overthrown by the US, and sectarian warfare and kidnapping for both political reasons and ransom were widespread. Furthermore, my university was in a dangerous part of the city, and to get there, I had to travel through hazardous areas that were the scene of numerous terrorist attacks.  Many of my friends and relatives advised me to leave dentistry because of the situation, but I did not listen to them.  I saw my dream of becoming a dentist as something more significant than anything else in the world and even more important to me than my own safety. 

After completing the first two years of dental school and surviving several harrowing experiences unscathed, I barely managed to escape a kidnapping attempt. This time, I was shocked and terrified, so I decided to abandon my country and finish my studies abroad. My journey took me first to Switzerland, then to Egypt, where I graduated in the top ten of in my class in dental school. I finished with a 3.6 GPA, and the Deputy Dean of the University offered me a position as a teaching assistant.  Although I was truly honored, however, my central dream had long been to study in the United States, and I soon set my sights on coming to America and receiving the finest education in dentistry possible.

I participated in many dentistry conferences in Egypt to stay current in my field and to think critically about some of the most critical issues and challenges facing us as a profession. I was especially impressed at all of these conferences by dentists who were educated in the US. This inspired me to set this goal for myself—so that I, too, could work on the cutting edge with the latest techniques and technology. One of my professors in Egypt was a surgeon who received his dental degree in the U.S., and he encouraged me to pursue my doctoral degree in the US as well. After graduating from dental school in Egypt, I moved to Jordan and worked as a volunteer dentist to gain additional practical and clinical experience. I appreciate my time in Jordan as it helped me to understand how the entire Middle East shares many of the same challenges to our oral health.

My experience at XXXX University School of Dental Medicine has been unique and exhilarating. I moved to Boston to begin a new stage in my life. Moving to a new country, attending a new school, with a vigorous schedule and curriculum; I knew I was going to have to work extra hard. I studied all day and night, spent countless hours in the simulation learner center prepping tooth after tooth to strengthen my hand skills: all to fulfill my dream of earning a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in the United States. I would let nothing stand in my way. 

Now that I will soon be completing my DMD Degree, I wish to throw myself entirely into my specialty: orthodontics. Orthodontics has always been the area of dentistry that has fascinated me the most. I especially love how the benefits to the patient last throughout the long term. For me, occlusion is breathtaking and so very rewarding--seeing the happiness and renewed confidence of patients after every appointment.

I see it as my duty as a citizen to give back to my country and community and I look forward to using the skills that I have acquired at the full service of your esteemed Orthodontic residency program. I hope to stay active throughout your program in the promotion of dental care for developing nations and nations in conflict such as Syria and my native Iraq next door, participating in conferences, giving lectures, and becoming involved in community outreach work. I thank you for considering me for your program.

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