Diversity, Research and Education Excellence Attracted this EIOH Graduate

Jun. 12, 2021

Dr. Maryam Rajab Abdulloh Altuhafy (OFP ’21, MS ’21)

Dr. Maryam Rajab Abdulloh Altuhafy (OFP '21, MS '21)
Dr. Maryam Rajab Abdulloh Altuhafy (OFP '21, MS '21)

Dr. Maryam Rajab Abdulloh Altuhafy knew she wanted to be a dentist before she was 10 years old, when her parents took her to a dental school in Iraq to see an orthodontist. There, the students’ interactions and enthusiasm were infectious and Maryam was hooked. She started dental school in Iraq during the second Gulf War in 2003, but moved to another dental school located in a safer location for her last year. After graduation, she worked as a general dentist for six years and volunteered helping Syrian refugees.   

In 2013, she traveled to the United States alone, married a year later and had a son. Balancing family, education, work and studying for boards was very challenging. To earn money, she worked as a medical interpreter, dental assistant, and professional decorator, while still making time to volunteer to provide dental services to the underprivileged.

Maryam was elated in 2019 when she was accepted into the EIOH Orofacial Pain Residency and Master of Dental Science programs, and thrilled at the opportunity to do research. Since then, she has published a case report, a systematic review and is participating in other studies.  

Where are you from?
Originally from Iraq, but also lived in San Diego for five years before moving to Rochester when I got accepted in the Orofacial pain program. I am a U.S. Citizen now.

Why did you choose EIOH?
Because of EIOH’s excellence in education and research. I love the diversity of the school, and it has given me many great opportunities to make friendships with students from different backgrounds and cultures. I will always be proud to be among EIOH alumni.

Best memory?
The day I got accepted into the EIOH Orofacial Pain Residency and Master’s Programs.

Favorite/Least Favorite thing about Rochester?
I love fall! The reds, oranges, and yellows of the trees are unique, and there are so many places to hike. I loved when it started snowing in November. Rochester celebrates the arrival of Spring with a free festival in Highland Park, where thousands of lilacs bloom. In summer, I love to visit Letchworth State Park and the Erie Canal. Niagara Falls – a fantastic place – is only an hour and a half away. Rochester feels like my second home!

Did the EIOH experience help make a better you?
In the last two years, I had a lot of time to re-evaluate what is important to me. As a dentist and specialist, I learned a lot from my mentors, clinics, and research, broadening my knowledge and experiences. Being professional in dentistry means being truthful with all patients regarding health issues and treatment options, not harming the patient, and providing professional health and dental care.

EIOH encouraged me to discover my power and I began thinking out of the box. I realized I love the academic field and enjoy teaching. For me, continuously learning new things is the key to success through growth and expanding my horizons. I developed good relationships with all my faculty, students, and staff from different backgrounds and cultures. We are like a family.

What are your plans/next steps upon graduation?
To work as a faculty member and an Orofacial Pain Specialist in the United States.

It has been a journey for my family and me, and that’s why I am committed to practicing dentistry in the United States. I believe a dentist should serve the community and uphold the respect of patients. I am willing to bring everything I have learned whether dental or non-dental and add to it and improve. Being compassionate with my patients and understanding their needs is my priority.

Finally, dream big and work hard.

What will you miss the most?
I will miss our faculty, clinics, and sitting in the Farash Auditorium listening to the lectures. The classes in the Auditorium allowed me to meet other students from other departments before Covid.  And I will miss fun times with my friends.