Hundreds of dentists from around the world apply to the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine’s (CU SDM) Advanced Standing International Student Program (ISP) every year. The Class of 2023 was no exception: Out of 572 applicants from more than 20 countries, 39 were selected to join the program in January 2022. After two years of didactic courses, simulated training and direct patient care, they will receive their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees at the ISP Class of 2023 Commencement Ceremony on Friday, December 8, 2023.
“The students in our program are truly incredible,” said Rana Laouar, ISP Manager of Admissions and Student Engagement. “To uproot your life and commence a program in an entirely different country and master the study of dentistry all over again is something to be immensely proud of.”
Continue reading for a glimpse into some of our graduates' personal and professional journeys that led them to CU Dental.
Alhaitham Abdullah has practiced dentistry for 23 years and has a master’s degree in prosthodontics. He moved to the United States from Sudan in 2018 in search of a better future. At CU, he was a member of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), American Student Dental Association (ASDA), Student National Dental Association (SNDA) and American Association of Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR). After graduation, he plans to practice general dentistry in Indiana.
Sondus Alkadri, a resilient Syrian war survivor and mother of two, is breaking cultural barriers as the first woman in her extended family to independently travel abroad for higher education, pursuing a peaceful life. With more than a decade of dental education at five schools worldwide, she plans to stay in Colorado after graduation to practice and prioritize personal and professional growth. She was recognized in the CU Anschutz Medical Campus Chancellor’s State of the Campus Address for her inspiring story and dedication to the dental profession.
ISAURA CONCEPCION CIRILLO
Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave, Mexico
Isaura Cirillo started working at 13 years old to pay for her education. Her unwavering determination continued through dental school in Mexico, a master’s degree in pediatric dentistry, and now as class president of the ISP Class of 2023. She lives in Breckenridge, Colorado, where she met her husband, got married and started a family. She believes service and dedication are integral to her professional ethos, and finds immense fulfillment in helping people, especially groups that have been historically marginalized and people experiencing disabilities. After graduation, she will be working in Dillon, Colorado, and plans to be part of a private practice in the future.
Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Fernando Deon comes from a family of dentists in Brazil. He moved the U.S. in 2021, seeking an opportunity to work with high-end technology in the dental field and to create better opportunities for his family. With more than 17 years of dental experience, a master’s degree in dentistry and a specialization in oral and maxillofacial surgery, he strives to provide the best treatment for his patients based on their individual needs. After graduation, he is moving to Jacksonville, Florida, to practice in a local dental clinic.
SHIVANI SHIVKUMAR MALLISHERY
Shivani Mallishery’s journey has taken her from Bahrain where she was raised, to India for her Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), to California for advanced training in endodontics, to Colorado for her DDS. She has been actively involved in research and innovation related to endodontics, including a collaborative team project to develop an algorithm that can assess the difficulty of an endodontic case and the need for referral using a simple questionnaire. She earned the highest grade point average in her class both years. After graduation, she will practice as an associate dentist in Atlanta, Georgia, and will eventually focus on private practice.
Mohita Sharma chose to pursue dentistry to create a positive impact in people's lives. This journey holds particular significance as she will be the first doctor in her family, a milestone made possible through the unwavering support of her loved ones. One month before she was supposed to start at CU SDM, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to defer enrollment. Now, as she celebrates nearly three years cancer free, she will finally receive her DDS and fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a licensed dentist in the U.S.
DEVYANI MANSINGH YADAV
Devyani Yadav moved from India to the U.S. with her two young children to pursue her dream of becoming a dentist. She is an artist, writer, and has served as a volunteer dentist at the Paralympic Games. With 14 years of dedication, she has recognized that dentistry holds a special place in her heart, and her experiences have only deepened her love for the profession. After graduation, she will embark on a new chapter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, working as an associate to contribute her skills and passion.
Congratulations to the ISP Class of 2023. We are honored you chose the CU School of Dental Medicine for your continued studies, and grateful for your contributions and positive presence over the past two years. We can’t wait to see where your journeys take you next.