Arij Kazmi hopes to impact people’s lives in a positive way

January 2015
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photo credit: Ioana Dumitru

Born and raised in Montreal, Arij Kazmi’s goal of becoming a McGill student became a reality when she was accepted in the BSc program 5 years ago. Always aware of the impact that community service has, she decided to take the dive and organise this year’s Outreach Winter Gala dinner. She sat down with me to talk about McGill, Dentistry, the organising committee’s commitment to making this year’s gala a success and about her goals as a future dentist.

1.Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Montreal and grew up in the West Island. I attended CEGEP at Marianopolis College and then went on to complete an undergraduate degree majoring in Biology at McGill. Although I’ve lived in Montreal my whole life, I have had the great privilege of traveling all around the world. I have traveled in overnight trains through China, waved my hands up like we do on roller-coasters (which I’m terrified of) on tuk-tuks in Thailand and even travelled by camel and by foot in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. Immersing myself in foreign cultures, I have gained a unique appreciation of the incredibly diverse world we live in. Despite such diversity I’ve seen how we’re not all that different and this realization is what drives me to volunteer and advocate for community involvement and bridge the gaps between groups.

2.Why did you choose dentistry? Why McGill?
Why McGill? Is that even a question! Growing up in Montreal, attending McGill was always an ultimate goal of mine. This goal was realized when I was completing my B.Sc.As I reached my last year, I was sure that my time at McGill hadn’t come to an end. My initial attraction to dentistry has a lot to do with the program itself. I found that the values of McGill Dentistry resonated perfectly with my expectations.

The more I learn as a dental student, the more I fall in love with my future profession. Dentistry is an elegant combination of oral medicine, artistic mastery, entrepreneurship and so much more. I also like the idea of being challenged by a profession that demands so much of you.

3.How did you get involved in the Outreach program?
The values reflected by the Outreach program was a big factor in my choice to study Dentistry at McGill. Growing up I was constantly made aware of the importance of community involvement and the Outreach program highlights this very spirit. As a first and second year student, I have assisted the senior students at the mobile clinics and seen firsthand how efforts are made to really go out into vulnerable neighbourhoods in and offer free dental care. And this is only one chapter of the many initiatives within the Outreach program that I can’t wait to become more active in.

4.Why did you choose to be involved in organising this year’s winter gala?
I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to support an incredible cause. After attending last year’s Outreach dinner, I realized that outreach is a great initiative that brings students from dentistry and medicine, and members of the dental community of Montreal together to support a cause fundamental to the values of McGill Dentistry. This year we are even more excited to have McGill’s principal, Dr. Suzanne Fortier, join us along with our Dean, Dr. Paul Allison, and the many faculty members and clinicians in support of our Outreach program.

5.Where do you find the time to organise a gala for hundreds of people with all of your studying and other commitments?
Time is definitely one of our biggest challenges when it comes to organizing the gala! Our busy schedules, especially having started in the pre-clinic, make it quite challenging to accommodate the demands of organizing such a large event. Putting together such an event would be impossible if it were not for the amazing team that makes up the Outreach gala organizing committee. My fellow classmates, Ivy Lin, Howard Yoon and Jacqueline Yip, have gone beyond expectations to make the Outreach gala the best it could possibly be.

6.What have you learned from planning the gala?
I have learned so many things from planning this year’s gala but most important is that I have gained a special appreciation for how hard it is to keep programs such as Outreach, that run entirely on donations, in effect. I have learned the important of a community and the value of community support. Without a strong community of donors and supporters this gala and the Outreach program would only be a dream.

7.Now that you have started in the pre-clinic lab are you excited to get to work on real patients?
There is such a thrill that I experience every morning when I walk into the pre-clinic wearing my new scrubs. Along with the excitement, I am also learning of the great responsibility that comes with being a dentist. This has become evident to us in pre-clinic, we are constantly reminded of how we must master our craft because very shortly we will be expected to treat our patients with nothing less than perfection.

8.What does success mean to you both in and out of the classroom?
When younger you take other people’s ideals of success as your own but as we go through our life experiences we realize that everyone has their own definition of this powerful word and it takes a great deal of confidence to embark on your own journey towards success. As individuals we all have the power and voice to contribute and make a difference in society. For me, success is when you gain the confidence to use this power to its full potential.

9.How would you like to help our world?
I consider myself very fortunate to be studying to work in a profession that allows me to directly help people in their day to day lives. I am training every day to learn skills that will enable me to alleviate the concerns of patients to the best of my ability. This is how I hope to help our world, to use my skills to impact people’s lives in a positive way.

You get can you tickets for this years gala online.

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