Nabeel Cajee ’11, ’15 opted to do a residency in general dentistry at Highland Hospital in Oakland because he wanted to start his career on a note of service.
Committed to help
the parents of a very young girl in extreme pain from an abscessed tooth drove to Oakland from Modesto because they were unable to find treatment closer to home.
Cajee, a Stockton native, chose Pacific for his undergraduate education in part because he had started a nonprofit organization while in high school that advocated for reinvestment in local public libraries, and he wanted to continue this work. He also loved the flexibility that Pacific provided—he actually designed his own undergraduate degree within the College of the Pacific— as well as the opportunities for research and exploration.
“I felt that working in the hospital would help build my skills more quickly than going directly into private practice, and I also wanted to start my career on a note of service,” Nabeel said.
or Nabeel Cajee ’11, ’15 success is defined by much more than just academic achievement.
“For me, it’s about unlocking one’s potential, and so many people at Pacific helped me do that,” he said.
“My friends used to tease me because I was always running from one end of the campus to the other, taking organic chemistry in the morning and philosophy in the afternoon,” he said. “But I believe in the importance of a strong liberal arts education, in being able to study a number of fields and develop interpersonal skills necessary for life.” At Pacific, he also had a range of opportunities that are not always common at other undergraduate institutions: he was in the Pacific Legal Scholars Program, he worked in a genetics lab, he participated in a sociology research project, and he was able to advance his Spanish-speaking skills through experiences in Mexico, Bolivia and Colombia. When he finished his dental degree at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, he chose to do a residency—going beyond what is required to practice dentistry in California. But for Cajee, the chance to work in the Advanced Education in General Dentistry program at Highland Hospital in Oakland was an opportunity for continued learning and to serve others. In his work at the hospital, he has seen patients who have driven for hours to get dental care, who often have complex medical histories and for whom, in many cases, the hospital is the last option they have for treatment. In one case that affected Cajee, 28
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“Every day in the hospital has challenged me,” he said. “The experience has helped ground me and has really shaped the trajectory of my career.”
“I felt such a sense of gratitude—going to dental school was the fulfillment of a dream—so the residency was a way to express this gratitude,” he said. When he completes his residency in July, Cajee will be busy. Along with starting his dental career, he’ll be coming full circle with his community involvement. The library advocacy Cajee initiated as he entered Pacific nine years ago is finally coming to fruition. This November, Stockton will vote to expand and improve the city’s library and recreation systems. Cajee will be very involved in the campaign he helped inspire. “Through Pacific, I obtained an incredible liberal arts education along with world-class dental training,” said Cajee. “The best part? Amazing faculty mentors who inspired and encouraged my commitment to helping others.”
I felt such a sense of gratitude —going to dental school was the fulfillment of a dream—so the residency was a way to express this gratitude. Nabeel Cajee ’11, ’15
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