Bulletin of Dental Education

UNC School of Dentistry Students Lead DEAH DAY of Service in the Community

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Dental students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry (UNC SOD) have established a new day of service to be conducted annually in honor and memory of the late Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha. After thoughtful discussion, they came up with DEAH DAY: Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor. Each year the school will cancel classes and clinics that day as students conduct community service work across The Triangle area. 
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With the support of the Dental Foundation of North Carolina, the inaugural DEAH DAY of community service was held on September 17. Over 350 UNC SOD students participated in projects. 

Students began planning for the special community service event in the spring after meeting with school of dentistry leadership to discuss the concept. Mr. Barakat, a member of the D.D.S. class of 2017 at the UNC SOD, and Mrs. Abu-Salha, a member of the D.D.S. Class of 2019, were two of three victims of a fatal shooting in February 2015. Student leaders wanted to create something lasting and impactful to remember them and their commitment to service. 

“When several students from the school approached us about the idea of honoring the memory of Deah and Yusor through volunteering at community service events, it seemed like such a natural way to join together to honor their lives of service,” says Jane Weintraub, D.D.S., M.P.H., Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at UNC SOD. “They had such incredible hearts, often giving their weekends to help those less fortunate. We will conduct these events every year to honor their memories and continue their legacy of giving back to the community. I am very proud of our students for organizing and participating in this wonderful event.”

“DEAH
Students work together to construct
a Habitat for Humanity home in Efland, NC.

“After the tragic losses of Deah, Yusor and Razan, there were many requests to honor their legacies from students and faculty,” says Kaushal Gandhi, a member of the D.D.S. class of 2017. “Deah and Yusor were aspiring dentists and volunteered regularly within their communities. All three would have gone on to have illustrious careers and continue their community outreach and spirit of service locally and internationally. Their legacy is that of learning, service, humanity, faith and compassion. DEAH DAY is the perfect way to pay tribute to their lives.”

Mr. Barakat and Mrs. Abu-Salha had been married six weeks at the time of their deaths. The third victim was Razan Abu-Salha, a sophomore at North Carolina State University and Mrs. Abu-Salha’s younger sister. The couple had planned to travel to Turkey last summer to provide dental care to Syrian refugees. Following their graduations from UNC SOD, they planned to open a dental practice together.

“Each year on DEAH DAY, the school’s D.D.S., dental hygiene and dental assisting students will spend the morning volunteering at various sites around The Triangle. In the afternoon, everyone will return to the dental school for a reception honoring the lives of Deah and Yusor and a celebration of service. This annual day of service will preserve this legacy and hopefully inspire future generations of UNC SOD students to follow their example through service,” says Ms. Gandhi.

Published on October 14, 2015.

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