By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota
In my mind, Dr. Kifah Barrishi is not just a teacher. She practically taught me most of what I know about endodontics (root canal therapy). Every time I perform a root canal, I’m remembering quotes that she had said in her lectures as I’m working. She is my “mother” in endodontics.
Dr. Barrishi graduated first on her class from the Faculty of Dentistry at Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) in Irbid, Jordan. She then came to the United States to specialize in endodontics at the University of Iowa, quickly becoming the youngest American Board certified endodontist to that date.
She then returned to Jordan to teach at JUST, which is where I went for my dental degree. I will never forget her dedicated efforts to make sure that I and all my classmates were proficient in performing root canals and operative dentistry. She was not one to give up on any of us. She was there to teach, and she did it very, very well. Her heart warming smile, great positivity, and sunny sense of humor made our learning experience more than complete.
We looked up to her. Her vast knowledge and exceptional skills were unmatched by most endodontic specialists in the Middle East. When she learned that I was coming to the University of Minnesota, she told me to say hello to Dr. Donna Mattscheck, one of her classmates from the University of Iowa who was teaching at the U of Minnesota at the time.
Dr. Mattscheck was delighted to see one of “Kifah’s students”. She took me back to her office and on the way we came across other faculty members. She introduced me to them saying: “This is Hani. He was taught by Kifah Barrishi!”. They all knew who Dr. Mattscheck was talking about. I felt honored and fortunate to have had Dr. Barrishi as a teacher.
Dr. Mattscheck let me see a few of the photos that Dr. Barrishi and her classmates at the U of Iowa took together. The first photo was a “normal” one with everyone smiling at the camera. The second was a hilarious and heartwarming “solidarity” shoot. I’ll let the photo speak for itself:
Needless to say, Dr. Barrishi is trying to hold herself from cracking up.
Yesterday I received the sad news that Dr. Barrishi passed away two days ago after a battle with illness. All of her students were terribly shocked – she was very young. I went on-line and tried to Google her name using different spellings but nothing came up. I felt bad that such a prominent endodontist and great teacher is leaving unsung. So, to my very special teacher I say: May Allaah grant you the highest dwellings in Paradise for your dedication to good teaching, your pursuit of knowledge, and your wonderful person.
Rest in peace, Dr. Kifah. You will never be forgotten.