Biotechnology alumna prepares for career in dentistry

by Latasha Ford

Posted on Apr 10, 2020

Tasnim Mohammad, who graduated from Fort Valley State University in December 2019, aspires to be an orthodontist.

Tasnim Mohammad, who graduated from Fort Valley State University in December 2019, aspires to be an orthodontist.

A recent Fort Valley State University biotechnology graduate aspires to be the first in her family to become a member of a professional community that transforms people’s oral health.

Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary, cutting-edge science that encompasses biology, plant and animal sciences and engineering. It serves as a scientific vehicle for many purposes including developing pharmaceuticals and improving health and nutrition.

Tasnim Mohammad, who graduated in December 2019, is using her bachelor’s degree in plant science-biotechnology to pursue a career in orthodontics and ultimately open her own clinic. With all her prerequisites complete, the Wildcat plans to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) and apply to dental schools this summer. Mohammad is the sixth child of seven siblings who have diverse careers in education, psychology and financial management. Her father, Joudeh Mohammad, who retired as a hospital administrator in Kansas, always desired for one of his children to become a doctor.

“I am fulfilling that dream,” Mohammad said, smiling.

The 24-year-old grew up in Amman, which is the capital of Jordan. She and her family moved to the United States when she was 18 years old. They first lived in San Diego, California, and then Orlando, Florida. Mohammad moved to Fort Valley, Georgia, in 2017 after marrying her husband, Motasem Magairah.

While in Florida, she attended Polk State College in Winter Haven to pursue a biomedical degree. Interested in going back to school, Mohammad decided to attend FVSU and spoke to biotechnology professor Dr. Sarwan Dhir, who encouraged her to pursue a biotechnology degree.

“He told me it was a good program and that he would work with me,” she said. At the time, Mohammad was pregnant with her first child, son Raed Magairah.

Working with Dhir afforded her the opportunity to receive hands-on training in the laboratory, which she fell in love with the experience and learning about plant genetics. Although she grew up around agriculture, she lacked the science skills.

“Biotechnology opened the door to the science part of agriculture,” Mohammad said.

The road to graduation for the mother of two has not been easy. After having her second child, daughter Meral Magairah, she returned to school after six weeks. She struggled with being a full-time student and mother. However, this did not stop her from pushing forward to fulfill her dream.

“If you want to be successful, you have to keep going,” Mohammad said.

She praised her family and professors for their support. While her husband worked to provide for the family, Mohammad spent many early mornings and late nights studying and completing homework. With no family members in the area, her mother, Khawla Saeed, would occasionally visit from Oregon when she needed help. Through it all, she maintained a 3.5 grade point average.

Determined to graduate, Mohammad said her biggest motivation was her children. “I want them to live a better life, find success and see that their mother can do it,” she said.

Looking back on her journey, she said it is a relief to get to this point in her life. She is proud of herself for following her dream. Her advice to students interested in pursuing a career in agriculture or dentistry is to never give up.

“Everyone has a story and has struggles. There may be obstacles, but the future is bright. Keep going,” she encouraged.

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