Student Aria Javaheri finds joy in dentistry | OHSU Foundation

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Aria Javaheri loved two things: building robots and helping people. 

Javaheri was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, where in high school, he participated in robotics competitions. Working in the field of mechanics, however, didn’t fulfill his desire to help others when it came to their health. So, Javaheri combined his passions, and his journey into dentistry began.  

Today, Javaheri is living out his dream. A fourth-year dentistry student with a general dentistry residency on the horizon, Javaheri strives to learn something new every day. The joy he experiences in what he does, he has found, has never wavered.   

In this audio story, Javaheri shares a slice of his educational journey. 


“Before I even thought about dentistry, my dad told me something that really stuck with me all those years. He told me, ‘Aria, do something that when you wake up in the morning, you’re not going to be like, “Ugh, another day. Another whatever job I’m going to do.” Or, when you’re going throughout the day, you’re just going to be bored, wanting to go home, not wanting to do this anymore. Do something you actually enjoy every single day, and that way, you’re going to have a good life.’ That’s kind of how I thought about it before I even chose dentistry, and when I found dentistry, I kind of felt that. I love dentistry. I honestly do. It’s fun every single day for me. I enjoy it. There’s a satisfaction that comes out of doing something that you actually enjoy.”

Growing up in Iran, Aria Javaheri was interested in two things: mechanics and health care. In high school, Aria competed in robotics competitions and worked on cars with his dad. He also had a knack for human sciences and a passion for helping others improve their health. When he combined those interests, he realized dentistry was a perfect fit, and after high school, he immigrated to the United States and began pursuing his calling to become a dentist. Today, Aria, who recently became a naturalized U.S. citizen, is a fourth-year dentistry student at OHSU applying to general dentistry residency programs. From fillings to extractions, oral surgery to root canals, Aria is learning everything he can about dentistry, and he’s loving every second of it.

“I was born in Tehran. Pretty much finished high school up there, got my diploma. And then one day I was just like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to move to the U.S.’ I pretty much just moved here for life in general. Kind of wanted more freedom, better life quality. And also I liked the education here as well. It’s better quality, and I get to be who I want to be here. It was perfect for me. I just got my citizenship as well. When I moved here, my brother also showed interest in moving here as well. So he moved here, and then he started high school. About a year and a half after that, my parents started moving here.”

“When I moved here, I knew I wanted to be a dentist, and pretty much every move I made was to get closer to get into dental school. When I was younger in Iran, I was really interested in working with my hands and being a mechanic. Back in high school, I used to make robots, and then we would go and do competitions. I was actually making full-on robots, like big size. But I always felt the lack of human interaction and helping people directly to improve their health. And at the same time I was very interested in human anatomy as well. And I was like, ‘OK, I need to combine these two and see what comes of it.’ Dentistry is the perfect combination of anatomy, human sciences, mechanics, physics, knowing the tools. And a lot of thought goes into the procedures we do. Even a simple filling, you know, you have to know the shape of your little filling, the physics of it, how it’s going to hold the filling, how the filling is going to bond to, for example, the tooth. There’s a lot of consideration that goes into it, which is my forte, and I really like it.”

“So before OHSU, I was a student at Portland State University. I studied biology and minored in chemistry. I had a lot of connections at OHSU. I had known this campus pretty well because I had an internship here. That was a really good experience for me. I got my foot in door to just get to know OHSU better. And I would come here all the time. I knew the dean of admissions at that time as well and I would go to him and ask a lot of questions. I had a lot of friends here who went to dental school. I had been hearing great things about the school from them. I don’t know — I just want to be here. I found a really good culture of students, people. Very supportive, very nice, very encouraging. I think finding that culture was really important for me.”

“After graduating from here hopefully when I start my residency, I get to be more trained and more experienced. And I want to learn a lot of new things. I am really into volunteering and I really like to provide and care for underserved populations just because I know what they’re going through. When I was in Iran a lot of people were in bad oral health conditions just because we didn’t have great public health. No one new why they needed cleanings. They needed to do fillings. I’ve done a lot of volunteering here where we work with underserved populations, and every patient I’ve helped, I’ve felt a satisfaction out of that because I helped someone improve their quality of life even just a little bit, and that was I think a positive impact I had on the society.”

“And now, as a fourth-year, all we do is patient care. Every single day I wake up, I’m happy to be here. And every procedure I do, I’m more than happy to do it. And I enjoy my patient interactions, my faculty interactions. And every single day I actually try to strive and learn something new.”