Students Lead Community Service Day to Honor Slain Students, Dental School Cancels Classes

Posted on September 17, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.Sept. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, with the support of the Dental Foundation of North Carolina, have established a community service event that will be conducted annually to honor the late Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, two of three victims of a fatal shooting in February 2015.

This year's community service event is being held today at 22 sites across the Carolina triangle area. More than 350 dental school students are participating and completing about 1,200 hours of service. The school has cancelled all classes and clinics, and will do so each year on the community service day.

Student leaders wanted to create something lasting and impactful to remember Barakat and Abu-Salha and their lifestyle of giving back to those less fortunate. After discussion among the students, they came up with DEAH DAYDirecting Efforts And Honoring Deah AndYusor. Barakat was a member of the DDS class of 2017 at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry and Abu-Salha was a member of the DDS Class of 2019, which entered the school this fall.

"There were many requests to honor their legacies from students and faculty," said Kaushal Gandhi, a member of the DDS class of 2017. "Their legacy is that of learning, service, humanity, faith and compassion. DEAH DAY is the perfect way to pay tribute to their lives."

"When several students approached us about the honoring the memory of Deah and Yusor through community service events, it seemed like such a natural way to join together to honor their lives of service," said Jane Weintraub, dean and alumni distinguished professor at the UNC School of Dentistry. "They had such incredible hearts, often giving their weekends to help those less fortunate. I am very proud of our students for organizing and participating in this wonderful event."

Barakat and Yusor 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. The couple had planned to travel to Turkey to provide dental care to Syrian refugees and, following their graduations, they planned to open a dental practice together.

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