UNC Dental Students Remember Slain Classmates With Day Of Volunteer Work

Sep 17, 2015

It's a good thing the Dental School at UNC-Chapel Hill canceled class today, because more than 350 students spent the morning doing community service work instead.

They were volunteering  in memory of their late classmate, Deah Barakat and his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, who planned to enroll this fall. The couple and Yusor's sister Razan were killed in February of this year.

Omar Abdelbaky  is a fourth-year dental student at UNC, and one of the organizers of DEAH DAY. That stands for "Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor."

Abdelbaky led a team in renovating a house Barakat  used to rent to raise money for service projects. Now, the dental students are turning that residence into a community center. Other students spent the morning installing smoke detectors in people's homes, donating supplies to a food bank, and paving the driveway at the Duke Lemur Center.

DEAH DAY = Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor

Abdelbaky says he grew up with Barakat, who prioritized community service even during graduate school.

"I know that Deah would be so happy knowing that there's a day of service for people to take time off from school and do service around the community," Abdelbaky said. "That means a lot to me knowing that we're honoring his legacy in a way that's meaningful to him."

Abdelbaky  says UNC's dentistry school plans to observe DEAH DAY each year.