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Research experience leads to dental school admission

February 1, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. — When your dental school application includes hands-on research with a professor, as well as publication credit, you stand out from the crowd.

Mary Elmasry and Kasem, Ph.D. work in the lab

For Mary Elmasry, her experience studying photoelectric chemistry with Kasem Kasem, Indiana University Kokomo professor of chemistry, helped her achieve her dream of acceptance to the IU School of Dentistry.

“Dr. Kasem has made a big impact on my future,” Elmasry said, who graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. “He recognized that I’m a hard worker and took me under his wing. He really helped broaden my spectrum of science opportunities.”

Her hard work in Kasem’s Introduction to Chemistry class led to the research opportunity, which included presenting at conference, and publishing a paper in a professional journal. This gave her something extra to talk about during her admissions interview, and helped her stand out among applicants to the prestigious program.

“He really opened a lot of doors for me, and I couldn’t be more thankful,” she said, “I feel like the hard work, the studying, and learning to prioritize my schedule paid off. Coming to IU Kokomo helped with that.”

Elmasry, from Kokomo, chose a health care career to follow in the footsteps of her father, Dr. Sherif Elmasry, a pediatrician.

In order to maintain high grades, she also asked for help when needed, both from professors and on campus tutors.

“You can go to your professors at any time for help,” she said. “They’re not intimidating, and they want you to learn. I went to the organic chemistry tutor after nearly every class, to be sure I understood the material.”

Elmasry served as secretary and treasurer of the campus pre-professional club, for students planning to go to programs such as medical or dental school, and earned a pre-professional scholarship. The award, which targets academically talented students interested in professional school, provided $2,500 per year toward her tuition, along with a laptop and research opportunities.

“I’m a little scared going to dental school, but I know it will be fun,” she said. “It will be a new experience. It’s something I’m interested in, rather than taking general classes. I’m excited for the opportunity.”

She also did 100 hours of job shadowing with Dr. David Zandi in her former hometown of Peru. 

“He showed me everything I would ever want to know about dentistry, and even let me assist in some procedures,” she said.

She is interested in orthodontics, and wants to return to Kokomo to open her own practice after completing her studies.

While at IU Kokomo, Elmasry sought out every opportunity available to her to prepare for the challenge ahead of her, including enrolling in the campus’ first Bridge Program as an incoming freshman. The two-week summer class gives students the opportunity to meet faculty, learn about goal setting, career planning, and other skills that help with college success.

“It made me less nervous about going to college,” she said. “It was nice to meet other students facing the same challenges I was, and to make friends before it started.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 02/01/2018