This excerpt was taken from and written for the “Member of the Month” section of the Women’s Biz Network (WBN) of Wellesley.
I am a believer – a believer that dreams do come true. I believe because today I had the opportunity to hear the personal story of my friend (and employer) Dr. Femina Ali.
Sitting in the dental office conference room interviewing her was a reversal of what normally happens there – she is normally in there getting to know her new patients on a personal basis. Now I was the lucky one getting to know more about her.
Her optimism and ability to stay focused on her personal goals seems to have carried her a long way. Femina Ali grew up in Karachi, Pakistan with several siblings. She always knew she wanted to be a doctor of some kind, and so when dental school clicked with her during the first summer of her training, she felt it was meant to be. Love was also in store for Femina at De’Montmorency College of Dentistry, because it was there she met Ejaz Ali, the “love of her life.” They graduated together in 1982 and always talked about how one day they’d own their own practice and work side by side.
In 1987 the two doctors Ali moved to the United States and welcomed children Zarah in 1988 and Zann in 1990. They lived in many places, including Florida and Indiana, before settling in MA. Often working second and third jobs to make ends meet, they would alternate their work schedules so that they could maximize the time they were able to spend with their children. He delivered pizzas, and cleaned offices, she cleaned homes was a nurses assistant and took care of the children. In 1994, Ejaz graduated from Tufts Dental School and encouraged Femina to go back to school, even though they had no idea where the money or the time would come from. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” she says, and things fell into place. So in 1995, both with their backpacks, son Zann went off to Kindergarten and Femina started Tufts Dental School.
The second-chapter in her life, it seems, is taking place right now. Since taking over the dental practice that is now Wellesley Dental Group, Dr. Femina Ali is living out the dream. Happy to be able to take a preventive approach (refreshingly different than what was once practiced in common dentistry in Pakistan), Femina is intrigued with the holistic approach to treating her patients and she thoroughly enjoys getting to know them. Her strong sense of family has flowed into the office environment, where patients feel a very warm vibe and are welcomed, and where employees remain very engaged.
She still feels passionate about her work, and knows that her passion is still growing, especially for working with children. The passion for dentistry in the family has rubbed off onto daughter Zarah, who is accepted into the dental program at Tufts for 2011.
If you get Femina Ali outside of the office, you may see her volunteering or participating in an array of community events. With the recent H1N1 flu outbreak, she reached out to the local health departments and took a training to provide vaccinations. She has served as both Vice-President and President of the Wellesley High School PTSO and does what she can for many child focused organizations, such as the Wellesley Educational Foundation, Wellesley Children’s Community Center, and Cradles to Crayons. Despite all of her hard work, she feels that the community has given back to her even more than she could ever contribute.
At home (rarely), Dr. Femina Ali is the same person you would get to know in town, except at home she cooks more and entertains many guests. Oh, and she also tells me not to forget to mention how much she enjoys playing with the family dog Milo.
There are three very important aspects of her life: being a good wife and mother, helping her patients, and being a responsible citizen. The fact that she is able to maintain forward movement while juggling all of her hats is remarkable. “It’s all about balance,” she says.