The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Dental Foundation of North Carolina (DFNC) have established a new memorial award. The Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha Memorial Award, in memory of the late Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, will be presented for the first time during the fall semester of the 2015-16 academic year.
Barakat, a second-year DDS student at the UNC School of Dentistry, and Abu-Salha, a member of the DDS Class of 2019, which will enter the school this fall, were two of three victims of a fatal shooting in February 2015. Barakat and Abu-Salha spent much of their lives giving back to those less fortunate, donating their time and energy to homeless shelters and free dental clinics. The couple had planned to travel to Turkey this summer to provide dental care to Syrian refugees and, following their graduations from the UNC School of Dentistry, they planned to open a dental practice together.
“Deah and Yusor led lives of great purpose and this fund is a fitting tribute to their humanitarian devotions,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Through this award, the Carolina community is honoring their legacy of creating a more compassionate world through dentistry and delivering aid to those who are most vulnerable and in need.”
The memorial award will provide support to a UNC School of Dentistry student or group of students who plan a local, national or international service project that, according to Barakat’s brother, Farris, “will give back to communities that need help the most.”
Set up in consultation with the Barakat and Abu-Salha families, the award allows the school to perpetuate the love of service, dedication to community, and giving back exhibited by Barakat and Abu-Salha during their lives.
“Deah and Yusor had incredible hearts for service,” said Jane Weintraub, dean and alumni distinguished professor at the UNC School of Dentistry. “They often gave their weekends to working at homeless shelters or the North Carolina Missions of Mercy clinics, and were no strangers to international service trips. Through this award, we’ll be able to not only educate our students about their lives of service but also continue their legacy of giving back for years to come.”
The DFNC and the University each committed $30,000 to the fund, providing an initial endowment of $60,000 in total.
Those who wish to contribute to the Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha Memorial Award Fund should visit giving.unc.edu/sod/gift and select “Barakat Memorial Fund” from the dropdown menu.
Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha had been married six weeks at the time of their deaths. The third victim was Razan Abu-Salha, a sophomore at North Carolina State University and Yusor’s younger sister.