The couple started dental school at the University of Benghazi in 2004. They graduated in 2007 and married in 2009. The pair came to the United States in 2011 to study English language at the University of Pittsburgh before applying and being accepted to The Dental College of Georgia in 2012.
Shahoumi and Meghil, who are from Libya, each graduated with a master of science in oral biology in 2014 and will be hooded during The Graduate School Fall Hooding Ceremony on Friday, Dec. 13, after completing the PhD in Oral Biology & Maxillofacial Pathology program.
Meghil finished in May and could have graduated then. But he deferred to the fall because, in his mind, graduating together was the only option.
“It was a surprise for her; she didn’t know,” Meghil said.
“It means a lot to me that he waited for almost two semesters,” said Shahoumi, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Oral Biology and Diagnostic Sciences. “We know how much this event means to the both of us and how important it is to us. I was surprised when he talked with (vice dean of The Graduate School) Dr. Patricia Cameron and he told her that he wanted to graduate in fall, and when she asked him the reason, he said he was waiting for me.”
Shahoumi and Meghil said some of the advantages of studying in the same field were having a study partner to review the material. But they acknowledged studying in the same field was a bit much at times, especially when they would bring their work home with them. However, each would come to depend on the other’s point of view to take back to their studies at school.
“It helped a lot, especially at the stage when we were doing our master’s study, doing research specifically, but the really active interaction was during the research,” Meghil said. “When we were doing our master’s thesis, working on PhD thesis work, this is where we were engaging in discussion like asking her questions, she asked me questions. She’s very good at organizing the schedule.”
Both applied for Augusta University at the urging of friends who also completed the same program. One of the main deciding factors was the level of research available to them.
“Our colleagues encouraged us because they studied here and they saw how much research background there was and it was really better,” Shahoumi said. “So that’s why they advised both of us to come here.”
Both were already accomplished students, but they discovered the depth of research available to them within the college provided opportunities to participate in conferences and competitions.
Earlier this year, Shahoumi received the Dr. Robert and Kay Schattner Award, which is given annually for best oral presentation by a student. The presentation is made at the American Academy of Oral Medicine meeting, which took place this year in New Orleans.
Her presentation was on the effects of the oncoprotein EPS8 on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Oncoprotein is encoded by oncogenes, which have the potential to cause oral cancers.
Meghil was the recipient of the first-place award of AU’s 2019 3-Minute Thesis competition, and in 2017, he won the Arnold Bleiweis Award from the International Association for Dental Research in San Francisco and the best abstract award at the Perio Expo meeting at the University of North Carolina, School of Dentistry. He also competed as a finalist for the Hatton awards and competition at the American Association for Dental Research in 2018 in Fort Lauderdale and the Balint Orban competition at the American Academy of Periodontology in 2019 in Chicago.
Through the ups and downs, they have been by each other’s side.
“We always dreamed of our success, and we worked together for it,” Meghil said.