Giovanni Ibrahim’s journey to the UofL School of Dentistry has been long and daunting. When the incoming senior was just 12 years old, his father kicked him, his siblings and his mother out of their house in Egypt, citing religious reasons.
“We went from having a great life and a great family to having nothing,” he said.
His mom encouraged him to get an education to help overcome the challenge. Ibrahim started college when he was 15, studying tourism and business management. He eventually earned a scholarship to study translation and came to the U.S. — New York City — when he was 18.
He had $500.
“I started hustling. I found a job the second day I came here. I worked many jobs,” he said.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he served as an NYPD officer helping with Arabic translation and “giving back to the country that has given me a chance.”
He was with the police department for three years, serving while simultaneously studying dental hygiene. He chose to further the latter passion, noting, “I wanted to be that guy that can fix people.”
UofL’s School of Dentistry stood out to him because of the faculty and environment.
“It was the first time I felt very, very welcomed,” Ibrahim said. “If anyone would see me back then washing dishes or cleaning or doing this, they would have never said I’ll be the guy I am now. It truly is the American dream.”
Check out Ibrahim’s story below: