Romina Agharokh Aznavaleh, D22

School: School of Dental Medicine 

Degree: Doctor of Dental Medicine 

Home: If I have the people who love and support me around me, it doesn’t matter where I am.  

Why dentistry? 

I was pre-med in undergrad, and at a certain point I realized that medical school wasn’t for me. I ended up going for a master’s in biomedical engineering. Then, as part of that program, I began volunteering for a remote dental clinic; we would travel around and bring dental care to underserved communities, setting up shops in gyms, community centers, and other such places. Once I started doing that, I just fell in love with the work. I liked the feeling of fixing people’s problems immediately—not all of the problems, of course, but many of them. 

One moment in particular marked a turning point for me. I was assisting a dentist when a patient came in in horrible pain; she had infections all over her mouth, to the point that there was no choice but to remove all of her teeth. Of course, that would be a traumatic experience for anyone, but I was able to help her calm down—even though it was my first time seeing teeth taken out! I just kept talking to her, reassuring her, being there for her, and afterward, with all this gauze still in her mouth, she said to me, “You need to be a dentist. You know how to talk to patients. I would have been so much worse if you hadn’t been here.” She was crying from happiness, knowing she wasn’t going to die from an infection in her mouth. I knew then that this was the field for me. 

Your best advice for others who aspire to be dentists? 

You have to love what you do. If you don’t love it, your patients will know—and you’ll be miserable. You have to make sure that you’re passionate enough about people to actually care for them and to help them solve their problems.  

What's your superpower? 

Being able to relate to people from different backgrounds. I was born in Iran and raised in a diverse community in Texas. Then coming to Tufts—also such a diverse place—I became really good at just talking to anyone. I actively try to relate to others, and if it feels like that’s not happening, I’ll just keep conversing until we’re seeing eye to eye.  

"From my time at One Kneeland, I will always remember..." 

My classmates. If I didn’t have the classmates that I have, I wouldn’t have survived. Here’s an example of how they helped me get through: In my first year here, my mom had cancer. The whole class collected money to buy me a ticket to fly home and see her. It was just amazing, and it’s been that way from day one. I feel so supported here—my classmates have become a family to me. 

This profile originally appeared as part of the series “Profiles in Inspiration: Commencement 2022 Spotlights."

Back to Top