Awards, Outreach

School Wins National Recognition for Day of Service in Honor of Barakat, Abu-Salha

The ADEAGies Foundation today announced that the UNC School of Dentistry has been named the winner of a 2016 William J. Gies Award for Vision, Innovation and Achievement. The school was selected as the winner for the Outstanding Vision by an Academic Dental Institution category for its day of community service held in September in memory of Deah Barakat and his wife of six weeks, Yusor Abu-Salha.

The Gies Award for Vision, Innovation and Achievement in the Outstanding Vision by an Academic Dental Institution category recognizes contemporary ideas and solutions which bridge the present and the future of oral health and dental education while having an impact on a broader mission. The award will be presented at the 2016 Gies Awards Celebration on March 14, 2016 at the ADEA Annual Session and Exhibition in Denver, Colo.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by the ADEAGies Foundation for DEAH DAY, because this award recognizes the way Deah and Yusor lived their lives,” said Kaushal Gandhi, DDS Candidate 2017 and one of the DEAH DAY co-chairs. “Deah and Yusor were aspiring dentists who were committed to the profession of dentistry and also to their community, spending much of their spare time volunteering. The idea of a day of service was the perfect way to pay tribute to their lives and an opportunity for the entire dental school to come together and serve the local Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill community.”

The school’s day of service, called DEAH DAY (Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor), was a student-initiated and student-led event in memory of Barakat and Abu-Salha, who were two of three victims in a triple homicide in February 2015. Barakat was a member of the DDS Class of 2017 and Abu-Salha was a member of the then-incoming DDS Class of 2019. The third victim was Abu-Salha’s younger sister, Razan Abu-Salha, who was a sophomore at NC State University.

The inaugural DEAH DAY was held the morning of September 17, 2015. More than 350 DDS, dental hygiene and dental assisting students from the school spent time conducting various community service activities at more than 20 sites across the Triangle area. During their time at community sites, students contributed nearly 1,100 service hours, donated more than 475 pounds of food and donated more than 180 pounds of dental supplies. Activities included construction at an Orange County Habitat for Humanity site, clearing local greenways, donating and sorting items at food banks, beautification projects, and smoke alarm installation instruction, among others.

“Our students began planning for this day shortly after our collective loss so that something positive could result from the tragedy,” said Dean Jane Weintraub. “I am very proud of our students who organized and participated in what will become an annual school event. After they graduate, we want our students to continue to serve not only the patients in their dental chairs, but also their local communities and beyond. ‘Live like Deah’ is a mantra we have embraced.”

The Gies Awards, named after dental education pioneer William J. Gies, PhD, honor individuals and organizations exemplifying dedication to the highest standards of vision, innovation, and achievement in dental education, research, and leadership. These awards are presented by the ADEAGies Foundation, the philanthropic arm of ADEA. For more than 50 years, the ADEAGies Foundation has enhanced the oral health of the public through programs that support dental education, research, leadership and recognition.