Scholarship Support: Layla Fijany

Posted on: Thursday, 06/27/2019

Layla Fijany
Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Scholarship

 LAYLA FIJANY FELT SHE WAS DESTINED FOR DENTISTRY. As a little girl, she spent her free time making jewelry, and it was the hand-eye coordination that she especially enjoyed. While in college, she added the sciences as another personal interest and chose to major in human biology. When faced with what she wanted to do as a profession, dentistry revealed itself as the perfect fit, as it combined hand-eye skills, was patient-centric, and afforded her the opportunity to make a positive impact on others’ lives.

Now, having completed her third year of dental school, and being well into the clinical care portion of the curriculum, Layla feels even more fulfilled with her choice. “When a patient reveals to me that they have insecurities with their smile, I feel empowered to work with them to achieve their goals,” she said. “At UCLA I feel that I have the skills to help them smile again, and it is a very humbling, yet gratifying feeling.”

Like many of her colleagues, Layla chose UCLA because of its phenomenal reputation, but it was the research focus that drew her to enroll. Research had been and continues to be an important part of her professional pursuits ever since her bachelor's degree and master’s degree in biology. “I wanted to attend a school where I could continue to do research. UCLA has been a great environment not only for learning clinical dentistry, but as a university that is at the forefront of dental innovation and research,” Layla said.

The Southern California native has also made a point to involve herself with several dental and graduate student clubs and organizations, including holding leadership positions within those groups. Her passion for dentistry and the School has been recognized with the Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Scholarship, which is awarded to students who exhibit academic excellence and have made leadership contributions. 

“The financial impacts of scholarships are ten-fold, but beyond that, it gives me motivation to continue my efforts with leadership in student organizations,” Layla said. "I know that the Shapiro family has a celebrated history of giving at UCLA and I feel honored and fortunate to receive this prestigious scholarship.”

After she graduates next June, Layla plans to attend an orthodontics residency program, as she’s drawn to having the ability to change people's lives by guiding their dental and skeletal development. “There’s something so profound about watching someone transition from feeling ashamed and embarrassed of their teeth to someone who can’t stop smiling because they’re so proud and excited about their appearance,” said Layla. “That alone is why I want to be a dentist.”