Having moved from Iran with little money and no English, Roujin Khorramisavoji was willing to work long and hard to take advantage of the opportunities in the United States that she never had back home. Though she always knew she wanted to work in health care and become a dentist, she also was very intrigued by different cultures. This led Khorramisavoji to complete her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she immersed herself in archaeological fieldwork, studying the cultural patterns of the Chumash. During that time, she also spent more than 2,000 hours interning at different specialties in dentistry and eventually working as an orthodontic assistant.

“One of the most difficult parts of dentistry is working with kids,” Khorramisavoji reflected. “They’ll close their mouths, scream, talk way too much, just to avoid being worked on. I think compassion is my best tool during these moments. I explain to them every little thing I’m doing and sometimes I’ll grab an extra set of instruments and test it on myself first to show them it doesn’t hurt. You have to gain kids’ trust that way.”

Her combined interest in culture and serving people through health care led her to the Master of Science in Global Medicine program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, where she joined the executive board of WorldMed, a student-run organization with a mission to contribute to the improvement of public health in Los Angeles. As part of WorldMed, Khorramisavoji spoke at various schools about dental education, nutrition and climate change, as well as how to tackle these issues.

Speaking about her time in the Global Medicine program, she said, “this experience has been amazing and fulfilling in so many ways. I’ve met some of the most diverse, accomplished and fun-loving people in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Khorramisavoji will continue pursuing her dreams of becoming a dentist at NYU College of Dentistry this fall. She plans to work abroad on dental relief missions and join the movement to close the gap between global health and dentistry.

Khorramisavoji added that, “aside from being professional and driven, it’s important to not lose sight of who you are as an individual. I love fashion, food, taking photos (often of myself wearing clothes or eating food), blogging, and being active. These are the things that make me feel good and remind me that I’m not only dedicating my life to serving others, but I’m also remaining true to myself along the way.”