As the son of a jeweler, fourth-year student James Amir often watched his father at work.
Years later, he was surprised to discover dentists use the same kinds of tools found in his dad’s shop, and that the process of creating a dental crown or a gold inlay was similar to the art of jewelry making.
“When my dad makes an engagement ring, he does some of the same things. He has to wax it up and then use a gypsum mold. He has the same lathe, the same polishing machine,’’ Amir marvels.
From the start, working in the dental lab was “second nature” to Amir because it felt so much like helping out in his father’s Washington Township, NJ jewelry store.
After shadowing a local dentist, it was easy for him to choose dentistry as a career. “I knew I wanted to go into some sort of medical profession but when I saw the dental lab, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.’’
Although he respects his father’s profession, patient care has been even more rewarding for Amir, he says. “With jewelry making, if I make something good, they’ll maybe smile for a week or two. In dentistry, you’re caring for someone’s health and life, and helping them appreciate how to take care of themselves. If you can do something chairside, like relieve pain, people really remember you.’’
This year, he was awarded the Raymond Rossi, DMD Scholarship. Amir, one of four children, whose dad is a Syrian immigrant, is grateful for the support and recognition. “For someone to reach out and extend, not only the money, but their acceptance and approval of something I’m doing, that makes me feel really good,’’ he said.
He hopes to do the same for another dental student some day, especially after attending RSDM’s Donor/Scholar reception, where student recipients met with those who donated scholarship funding. “Learning the impact that it had on all the students, and the impact on the people giving the scholarship—the vibe, the emotion and energy is very positive. I know how I’ve struggled, calculating to the day how much money I have. If I’m able to have enough money to give back, I want to get the ball rolling and do that.’’