Faculty and Staff, Outreach, Services, Students

Nearly 1,500 Hours of Service Provided on Eighth Annual DEAH DAY

Volunteers working outside on DEAH DAY

A total of 407 volunteers provided 1,451 hours of service to the local community during the UNC Adams School of Dentistry’s eighth annual day of service, DEAH DAY (Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor), which honors the memory of the late Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha.

“The success of DEAH DAY is a real credit to our students, who have continued to organize the event and do the volunteer activities every year since 2015,” said UNC Adams School of Dentistry Interim Dean, Ed Swift, DMD, MS.

“The legacy of the three young people we honor on DEAH DAY could have been forgotten by now. But our students have not let that happen and we all remain inspired by the commitment to service that was so important to Deah, Yusor, and Razan.”

This year’s efforts spanned 30 sites across nine cities in North Carolina. Volunteers constructed houses with Habitat for Humanity, delivered food with Meals on Wheels, cleared nature trails with Triangle Land Conservancy and Ellerbee Creek Watershed, arranged and restocked food bank shelves, sorted and organized donations with Book Harvest, and much more.

Volunteers worked at four of the school’s student-led free dental clinics — DYOR Clinic in Raleigh, Pride Clinic in Carrboro, HSDA Outreach Clinic held in the student clinics, and CAARE Clinic in Durham —providing $8,533 in in-kind care to patients.

“DEAH DAY has always had a special place in my heart. I’m probably one of the few students still in the dental school that was a student in February 2015. I was a first-year dental hygiene student at the time, and I explicitly remember the night that it happened and the days following in the school,” said DEAH DAY co-coordinator, Kayla Cunningham, RDH, MS.

“The motto #LiveLikeDeah truly empowers the UNC ASOD family to serve the community, work towards true inclusivity, and live our lives in a manner that those in the medical profession should aspire to live. When we celebrate and serve on DEAH DAY every year, I hope that it reminds everybody to continue to serve their communities and to promote inclusivity regardless of background.”

“George [Ilenikhena, fourth-year dental student and DEAH DAY co-coordinator] and I want to thank every member of our DEAH DAY 2022 planning committee who put so much work and effort into this year’s DEAH DAY of Service.”

The full impact of the day of service includes:

  • 27 bags of trash collected
  • 40 bags of groceries delivered
  • 45 lbs. of food packaged
  • 78 procedures performed
  • 35 miles of shoreline cleaned
  • 311 meals delivered
  • 380 children taught about oral hygiene
  • 592 families served
  • 1,800 weeds pulled
  • 13,125 diapers donated

The annual DEAH DAY talent show was held in-person again for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The proceeds from the talent show benefitted the DYOR clinic founded in Deah and Yusor’s honor, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This year’s DEAH DAY kickoff event was a lunch and learn recorded presentation on Islamophobia and inclusivity from Deah’s sister, Dr. Suzanne Barakat, who is the Board Chair of the Our Three Winners Foundation, which was created in 2016 to speak out against Islamophobia.

Deah Barakat, a member of the school’s DDS Class of 2017, and Abu-Salha, an incoming member of the DDS Class of 2019, were two of three victims of a fatal shooting in February 2015.

Following their deaths, students at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry wanted to establish something that would truly represent Barakat and Abu-Salha, and that could encourage future students to give back to their community the way Barakat and Abu-Salha did during their lives.

Student leadership agreed that a day of service was the best way to preserve their memory and, with school leadership agreement, they created DEAH DAY. The inaugural DEAH DAY was held on September 15, 2015 and continues to occur on an annual basis.

Barakat and Abu-Salha had been married six weeks at the time of their deaths. The third victim was Razan Abu-Salha, a sophomore at North Carolina State University and Yusor’s younger sister. Deah and Yusor had planned to travel to Turkey to provide dental care to Syrian refugees and, following their graduations from the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, they planned to open a dental practice together.