Pirooz pursues dentistry career through Harvard


Courtesy of Yassee Pirooz

When she realized her passion for being a doctor wasn’t strong anymore, alumnus Yassee Pirooz found herself choosing dentistry as her future career.

After saying goodbye to her high school years in 2007, Yassee Pirooz went to the University of Virginia (UVA) to do her Bachelors of science and then continued on to Harvard University to do her doctorate in dental medicine. UVA appealed to Pirooz because she liked the size and location. She was able to gain a small scholarship for both UVA and Harvard University. Dentistry hasn’t always been Pirooz’s first choice of study, though she did always want to be in the medical field.

“I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but never really felt passionate enough about the lifestyle and amount of schooling I would have to do to pursue it, which is why dentistry was a great choice for me. I’m still providing invaluable health service to patients, and can focus on preventing disease rather than treating, and am able to use my artistic side during my work day, which I love,” Pirooz said. “Having good experiences with my dentists growing up and wanting to be involved in healthcare, and exposure to public health dentistry while in college also helped with choosing my career path.”

After finishing up her Bachelors of science at UVA, Pirooz was able to get herself to Harvard University with another small scholarship.

“[I chose Harvard because] the dental school is integrated into the medical school, and the way the curriculum was set up made a lot of sense to me since I was initially so interested in medicine and the connection between medicine and dentistry. I was in the Harvard medical program for my first two years. I wanted that medical understanding of my patients so that I wouldn’t be so focused only on what is going on in the mouth. Also, Harvard has incredible global health and public health opportunities, which I have pursued during my time here,” Pirooz said. “Harvard has proven to be amazing. I could not be happier with my choice in graduate programs. The Harvard network is unbeatable in the opportunities one can pursue and I have had so many amazing experiences and met incredible people while here.”

Today, Pirooz lives in Brookline, MA, which is about a mile away from her dental school. According to Pirooz, her day-to-day activities are not terribly exciting, but the interactions she has with her patients and her friends always keeps her smiling.

“[I] wake up around 6:30 a.m., drink coffee, eat breakfast, leave for school around 7:15 a.m., start setting up to see patients at 7:40 a.m. and see patients from 8:00 a.m. to noon [between 2-4 patients]. [After lunch], from noon to 1:00 p.m. [I’m] at the school of public health or at our dental school cafeteria with classmates and friends, then see patients again from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. I usually have some lab work to finish up after five o’clock and head home around 5:30 p.m.” Pirooz said.

According to Pirooz, life after high school is never easy, and there are always challenges along the way.

“I was a teacher through Teach for America between UVA and Harvard and taught high school physics. To say it was challenging is an understatement; I wanted to quit every day my first year. I buckled down and somehow got through it and the second year was much better, but trying to lesson plan for a course that had never been taught, to students with math and reading skills across the board (from first grade to twelfth grade reading levels) was endlessly difficult,” Pirooz said. “Not to mention having to manage the behavior of 30 plus hormonal teens each period. Teachers don’t get enough credit for how much they do and how hard they work. Especially after being one myself, I am thankful for my teachers every single day.”

In her high school years some teachers, Valerie Kibler, Mark Tueting and Chuck Green were able to leave a lasting impression on Pirooz.

“I would say that they were all just so supportive of me in my academics and extracurriculars and having that support meant the world to me! I didn’t recognize it then, but I completely believe it gave me the confidence to pursue my true aspirations in life,” Pirooz said. “My overall high school experience was amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a more well-rounded high-school experience.”

If Pirooz could go back in time, she would give herself and other high school students the following advice.

“It doesn’t matter what people think about you; the most important thing is your happiness. You’ll still be discovering yourself, your passions, your strengths and weaknesses, your goals, etc.,” Pirooz said. “Well into your 20’s, you recognize how fluid your youth is and how each experience will continue to change you. So much of how you may define yourself now is likely to change, so keep an open mind and be in the present.”