Hometown: Arlington, Texas and Tampa Bay, Florida
Career Plans: She's keeping her options open but she'd like to work in general practice.
The faculty and administrative staff are always willing to listen and work with the students on their concerns or suggestions.
Ever find yourself staring at other people's teeth? Most people would probably say no, but that's exactly how Marwa Elkharsity, DDS 2020, got interested in dentistry. When Marwa first moved from Texas to Florida after high school, she was meeting a lot of new people and found her eyes were drawn to their mouths.
"I'm the first to admit that I hated going to the dentist as a kid and had no interest in teeth," says Marwa. "Yet when I started meeting all these new people, I kept staring at their teeth. It was the first thing I would notice."
While working as a waitress, she met a dentist who would regularly come into the restaurant with his staff. Being the outgoing and talkative person that she is, Marwa started talking to him about her fixation on teeth and he suggested she shadow him in his office. The dentist had a tooth atlas, an educational tool that shows the tooth in 3D, and he showed it to her and explained the work that he does.
"The things he showed me on the tooth atlas required detailed hands skills which is something I really liked," recalls Marwa. "But what I loved most was the long-term relationships that he had built with his patients. Combine that with the science aspect of it and I was sold."
When it came time to choosing a dental school, the Dugoni School was at the top of her list. The three-year program was attractive, but her experience with the interview process alone was enough to persuade her. "The interview was completely different than any other interview I had. Everyone was really invested in you and took the time to get to know you. It was the sense of family and humanism that you keep hearing about."
Trying to get Marwa to narrow down what she loved most about the school was difficult; there are too many reasons on her list! One of the things she mentions is how cooperative the school is with the students. The faculty and administrative staff are always willing to listen and work with the students on their concerns or suggestions. "Whether it's the need for more tutoring or how we can change a course for the better, they will always listen to us."
Now in her second year, Marwa has begun seeing patients in the clinic. She finds it stressful yet rewarding. Everything she's learned in the past year can actually be applied to a live patient. "You get that ‘a-ha' moment where the light switch turns on," says Marwa. "It's nice to see all the work you've been putting into studying come to life while working with patients. And I love interacting with them."
Due to the heavy course load, most students are putting all their energy into trying to keep up with their studies and only take on one or two extracurricular activities. Marwa is not one of those people. She enjoys being active, involved and busy. She is president of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), a public relations representative for Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE), a member in the Dugoni Peer Support Program and also serves on a number of committees including the curriculum committee. On top of all that, she has a part-time job at a yoga studio.
"I love being involved and each one of these organizations has something that I'm interested in," says Marwa. "I enjoy volunteering to help the organization grow."
As for her future career plans, she's open to anything. Ideally she'd like to work in a general practice and from there see if she wants to focus on one aspect of dentistry. "It's the first time in my life that I haven't known what I'm going to do in the future. I'm open to different opportunities. I mean who knew that noticing teeth would eventually lead me to dentistry, yet here I am and I wouldn't have it any other way."