When Youstina Youssef was only nine months old, she and her mother Gehan Elsousi left Cairo, Egypt, for the United States. When mother and daughter arrived at across the world at JFK airport, Youssef’s father was not there to greet them, and he never arrived. Her mother was alone with a young child in a country with a culture she did not yet understand. Youssef’s grandmother Gamalat Tadrous left behind her six children in Egypt to move to America to help her daughter raise her child.
“My mother and grandmother are the biggest examples of strength, perseverance, and resilience in my life,” Youssef said. “My grandmother was the one who suggested I try dentistry.”
How did a high school internship lead to dentistry?
Youssef always knew she wanted to help other people through healthcare, but wasn’t sure how. After exploring the medical field and deciding it wasn’t a good fit, Youssef took her grandmother’s advice.
“My high school had an internship program and I chose to try dentistry,” Youssef said. In a different office every day of the week, Youssef loved the way patients and doctors could develop a relationship and treat the patient. “The combination of science and art has always been intriguing to me,” she said. “Ever since that program, I knew what I wanted to do.”
Did dreams of dentistry come true?
With hard work and a little bit of luck, Youssef found herself at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in the fall of 2016.
“I was waitlisted at Tufts. Twenty-four hours before the start of orientation, I got a call from a Boston number – I was off the waitlist and they had a spot on campus for me.”Youstina Youssef
Between crying tears of joy and say goodbye to her mother and grandmother, Youssef was off to Boston with only a friend’s couch to sleep on when she arrived. “That’s how it started, and it’s been an incredible experience since.”
West Coast opportunities await
Since graduating from Tufts in 2020, Youssef has been completing her residency at UCLA in California.
“This program was my first time in California,” she said. “Everyone that comes out here never leaves – including me!”
Dr. Youssef has goals to remain in California and treat underrepresented patients.
“Growing up in a low-income single-parent household in Greenwich, CT, living in an apartment with the housing authority, I have always been attracted to urban settings and treating the underserved,” she said. “I hope to continue working with that population – I find it the most rewarding.”