Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I was first exposed to patients with orofacial clefts during my general practice residency at Khartoum Dental Teaching Hospital in my home country Sudan. I learned how the management of cleft lip/palate negatively affects children and their families. It is at that time that I got interested in studying these anomalies and was involved in a number of clinical studies related to orofacial clefting. However, I wanted to learn more about the biology and genetics of clefting. I was excited when Dr. Kathy Svoboda at Texas A&M college of dentistry accepted me as a master’s student. Her lap focuses on understanding the development of the palate (roof of mouth). This was a great opportunity to further advance my knowledge in the science of craniofacial development. After completion of my Oral Biology masters degree and a period of maternal leave I decided to pursue my PhD. I was thrilled to be accepted at the Craniofacial science program and to work under the supervision of Dr Joy Richman. My project aims to better understand lip development and the molecular mechanisms underlying the factors that increase the risk of orofacial clefting.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
My decision to join UBC was mainly because I found a wonderful supervisor with a project that is very interesting. This also of course comes with the great plus of living in beautiful BC.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
UBC Dentistry has a great record of research on craniofacial development. This position provides a great opportunity to attain my career goals of advancing my research on clefting as well as to train for an academic career in a dental faculty.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The mountains, the ocean, the greenery.... Its a great a bless to be surrounded with amazing nature.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Many aspects of my life have shaped who I am today, my faith and family playing the major part. Also, as a member of a visible minority and a student parent, I learned to handle stress, balancing my personal and professional life. My diverse background (childhood in Kuwait, adulthood in Sudan, immigration to the US and Canada, raising a family) gave me broad-mindedness and the flexibility to adjust to new circumstances.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Nature walks, reading books and spending quality time with my family.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Balance your life and do not stress out. Accept that difficulties are part of graduate school and life. To mums who are thinking of returning to school its never too late to start graduate studies at the time that works best for you and family.