Drs. Rami, DDS, IDP’06, and Balsam, DDS, Jekki, both LLUSD faculty, could be called pioneers. They were the first in their respective families to leave Baghdad, Iraq, and—three years later—to achieve their objective: arriving in the United States. Subsequently they have welcomed their parents and all of their siblings to the land they chose to adopt as their own. That adoption has required considerable effort.
Born and raised in Baghdad, the Jekkis met at the University of Baghdad’s School of Dentistry. After dental school graduation, the couple married and established a practice in Baghdad. As part of their game plan of immigrating to the United States developed, they drove three years later with their infant daughter to the Iraq-Jordan border. Two firmly packed suitcases for each (a careful choice of clothing, family photos, and books) took on the appearance of a family on short holiday jaunt. They would spend three years in Jordan, where, lacking licensure to practice, they used their expertise in a dental office, serving essentially as dental assistants while awaiting word on the success of their vast paper work submitted to gain entrance to the United States. After a three-year sojourn in Jordan, the Jekki family arrived in the United States during the final days of 2000.