Name: Alisha and Natasha Nanji
Medical Title/Credentials: Dental Students
School/Program: Harvard School of Dental Medicine! We both Graduated from Cornell University in 2019
Favorite Hobby: Any outdoors activities such as hiking, canoeing, camping, ice climbing (favorite experience was going to the Adirondacks in -40℃), entrepreneurship, mentoring and helping predental students!
Why did you choose this profession? Dentistry is the perfect blend between art and science.
Alisha: Unfortunately, in sixth grade, I chipped my tooth in gym class. At that moment, I realized how difficult it was to socialize and eat. Ultimately, I realized dentistry's role in creating a profound effect on one's self esteem. Through shadowing dentists and witnessing the relief and sheer joy on patients after they obtained treatment, I saw the ability to improve a patient's quality of life by diagnosing a problem, finding a solution and providing treatment to alleviate pain. Further, I became interested in pursuing a career in dentistry after learning about the oral systemic link and the importance of early detection and prevention of diseases by examining one’s oral health. ⠀
Natasha: It was not until I accompanied my father, a dentist, to a nursing home, whereby I found my vocation: dentistry. As I watched him reline a patient's loose-fitting denture and intricately trim the excess material, I realized the immense impact a dentist can have on an individual's wellbeing. Seeing the patient's excitement when the denture fit, I could not help but smile. Although relining a denture initially seemed trivial to me, the patient happily explained that she would be able to eat and talk without pain. Ironically, through this experience outside the clinic, I realized my desire to be inside the clinic. From that day forward, I spent my summers at dental clinics witnessing procedures such as root canals, implants and even full mouth reconstructions. I met individuals from all paths of life in the operatory rooms. As I shadowed providers, I started to learn the importance of how the mouth serves as a window to one’s overall health.
Biggest Inspiration: Our father is a refugee that fled from Uganda with $23 and our mother is a sponsored immigrant from Tanzania who was sponsored by one of her eight sisters. They have shown us the importance of hard work, determination and giving back.
Current Passion Project: Working on a program to help increase diversity in medicine (stay tuned for more info!)
Fun Fact: In elementary school, we used to make YouTube videos. Australian pop singer Cody Simpson requested we make an official video for his song - the video hit over a million views!
How do you get over the troubled times? A pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (half baked!) and talking to family and friends!
Do you have any advice for others interested in entering your field? Invest your time and energy in activities you are genuinely passionate about. Don’t worry about being the “perfect applicant” and pursuing activities you think admissions would like to see - if you do this, you will get stuck doing activities you don’t enjoy and ultimately, you won’t be happy. Any journey in healthcare is a marathon and not a sprint, so be sure to pace yourself and enjoy the journey along the way!
Any other piece of advice, motivational quote, or message you would like to share? You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room; if you have a strong work ethic and keep pushing, you will be able to achieve your dreams! Remember that failure isn’t a bad thing - take time to learn from your mistakes.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life — and that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan