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International Dentist, Sikh Community Detroit

If I am accepted into your highly competitive doctoral program for international dentists, it will likely be due at least in part to the fact that I am a member of a small minority group that is increasingly becoming a target of violence and repression in the United States. A leader in the Sikh community where I live and work in the greater Detroit, Michigan Area, I am also a dentist educated in our native India. It would be a great honor not only for me as an individual to be accepted to your program, but also an honor and a moral uplift for my Sikh community here in Detroit.

I also hope to be accepted to your program on the basis of my dedication to the cause of helping the underserved with their oral health care needs, something which I see as very much interconnected with my religious faith. In addition to working full time as a dental assistant, I also work XX hours each week as a volunteer at the Malta Dental Clinic where I have been volunteering off and on since Month, Year; it is a free clinic sponsored by the Catholic Church. We help those who have no other access to dental treatment, no dental insurance; many have only recently been released from jail or are struggling to rebuild their lives on probation. Often, I notice a monitoring device on their ankle.

My goal is to fulfill my duty toward my profession by helping the underserved as much as possible for the balance of my professional life, perhaps at some point back in India as well as here in Detroit. I would also like to pursue specialty training in Endodontics at some point after earning my doctoral degree. Starting my own clinic has long been my dream.

We now have 5 gurdwaras in Michigan serving as our social as well as spiritual centers for Sikh people who have immigrated to America. The one where I go is in Canton, Michigan. All function in the same way as centers of gravity, information, and solidarity for the Sikh community, linking us back to the Sikh community in India and worldwide, as well as with other Sikh communities across America. If accepted to your program and given the opportunity to earn the Doctoral Degree, my leadership role would be enhanced in my gurdwara and I would naturally be looked up to as a leader in the community, especially as a result of the high priority placed on academic distinction and professional advancement as part of Sikh culture and ideology.

Unfortunately, all is not well in our American Sikh communities in America and for this reason it is important that all professions, especially a profession such as dentistry that places a high priority on inclusion, support our Sikh community for solidarity since we are being singled out for barbaric treatment. It is of critical importance that our people be represented in the professions, especially the most notable medical, dental, and legal professions. The fifth largest religion worldwide, Sikhism is often confused, especially here in America, with Islam, primarily as a result of the fact that Sikh men do not generally cut their hair as an expression of religious faith and they also wear turbans. This appears to be the reason why, for example, in 2012 a massacre took place at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a gunman who was a veteran and a white-supremacist fatally shot 6 people and wounded 4 before committing suicide. Since that time, particularly with the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, Sikh people of all ages, especially children in the public school system, are bullied by their peers. The one thing I always hear from youngsters in our community is how their classmates call them “Isis” or “terrorist.” Even the program director of our National Sikh Coalition, a professor at Columbia University, was attacked by a mob of young men yelling racial slurs on the street in New York City suffering bruises and a broken jaw before being rescued. He says that what happened to him is part of “systematic discrimination against Sikhs in the USA,” especially those who, like him, wear turbans and beards.

I graduated from dental school in 2003 and completed a one year internship program in India after which I began serving as an assistant professor at my college. I also opened my own clinic in the remote Naushera Pannua District of Tarn Tarn, in Punjab India in a small town that as yet had no dentist. I immigrated to the USA in 2008 as a result of my marriage and have been a US citizen since 2010. I passed my first board exam in 2012 and my second board exam in 2014. My return to dentistry was slowed by the fact that my wife was in nursing school but she has now graduated and promised to support me through dental school. Since October of 2014, I have been serving full time as a Dental Assistant with the Smile Program, working closely with the Michigan Program Director Dr. Elliot Schalang. Once or twice a month, I also have the honor of assisting him with staff training sessions. Most of all, I assist him and other dentists in the program with pulpectomies, pulpotomies, extractions, amalgams, and composite fillings.

I thank you for your consideration of my application.

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