USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Ostrow alumna shares meaningful story of treating a young girl in an underserved community

Photo by Hannah Benet


At the age of 7, I extracted my first tooth.

I couldn’t stand watching my little sister cry from tooth pain. So, I wrapped a string around her lower front tooth and pulled it. She immediately stopped crying and gave me a confused smile.

Maybe it was the fact that she was holding her tooth on a string or that the pain had gone away, but she had stopped crying. I knew in that moment that, just like my uncle, I wanted to be a dentist.

His practice was in a rural area in Iran. I used to watch him relieve his patients’ dental pain, and they always left smiling. Unlike my friends who went traveling or camping, I chose to spend summer breaks with my uncle in his practice, learning compassion, kind-heartedness, genuine care and the importance of giving back to the community.

Maybe he didn’t have the most advanced technological tools, but he taught me how to be selfless, patient and grateful. I knew I wanted to continue his legacy and to let patients know they will be OK.

I came a few steps closer to becoming a dentist when my parents moved to the states. After finishing USC’s dental hygiene program, where I gained an immense amount of dental and patient care experience, I worked as a registered hygienist and continued my studies toward a doctor of dental surgery degree at USC.

“Life is not dentistry. Dentistry is life.” 

–Maryet Babrood DH ’14, DDS ’18

During my six years at USC, every day was an unforgettable lesson on its own — especially during all the local and international trips to Mexico with AYUDA to aid people in need of dental care.

But it wasn’t untilI met a life-altering person, a 13-year-old Hispanic girl, that I felt the same chills my little sister gave me when she smiled. I treated this patient during one of my mobile clinic rotations in Bakersfield. The girl was quite shy and spoke broken English, but I could see her watching me very curiously as I treated her.

After her treatment, she gave me a warm hug and thanked me in English, with a huge genuine smile. After the rotation was over, she was able to find me on social media and sent me a drawing and the following message: “Hello, how are you? I did this for you, but I was ashamed to give it to you. But I was very happy to meet you. And you do a very good job. My respect for you. I also want to be a dentist like you. Congratulations on your work, and thank you for taking care of me so well.”

It was in that moment that I knew I had made my uncle and my parents proud. I could see the same sparks in her curious eyes as I had when I was 7 years old. I was able to relieve her pain, make her smile and most importantly, she wanted to become dentist too!

Today, as a newly graduated dentist, I understand there is so much more to discover about dentistry. As a general dentist, I look forward to new inspirational moments and learning experiences. I’m humbled and honored to be able to achieve my dream, but I would not be anywhere near where I am without the support of my parents, husband and my Trojan family — especially my mentor Dr. Helia Hooshangi PROS ’09, who showed me the sky is the limit. Life is not dentistry. Dentistry is life.

This story originally appeared in the TroDent, the official publication for the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Read more stories like this in our Fall 2018 issue.


Posted December 2018