A passion for community service

Pavly Galil

Pavly Galil long dreamed of attending a college where inclusion was a priority. “I strived to find a place where students could be accepted for who they are,” he said.

He says he found a place he could call home in the University of Washington Bothell. And as he took his first steps onto campus as a student in September 2019, he realized his dream had become a reality.

“Almost immediately, I felt like I was amongst family,” he said. Four years later, after working in multiple ways to help build community for his fellow students as well, Galil is among 12 UW Bothell students to be selected as one of the Husky 100 for 2021.

Each year, the UW recognizes 100 undergraduate and graduate students from the Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses who are making the most of their time at the University. The recipients actively connect what happens inside and outside of the classroom, applying what they learn to make a difference on campus and in their communities.

“Receiving the award made me think about the past and all that I have overcome,” Galil said. “I am an immigrant, and I faced a lot of challenges to pursue my education. It took resilience and grit to get to where I am today. This award honors my growth. It shows what happens when you never give up.”

Committed to student advocacy

His first quarter at UW Bothell, Galil worked in the Student Diversity Center as a peer navigator. With a passion for advancing equity and inclusion, he used his position to help create programs and support services for minoritized students.

“Serving at the Diversity Center allowed me to develop meaningful connections and help advocate for students from various communities, including students of color, LGBTQIA and undocumented students,” Galil said.

The first event he helped organize at the Diversity Center was a celebration of first-generation students. “I had only been at UW Bothell for about two months, and already I was not just being included — I was being celebrated,” he said.

A first-generation student himself, he says he appreciated being able to find a community of people who came from similar backgrounds.

“At UW Bothell, I have a lot in common with my fellow students. But even better,” said Galil, “is that what we tend to admire most about one another is our differences.”

Actions speak louder

Because of his successful work and interactions with students through the Diversity Center, Galil was asked by leadership in UW Bothell’s student government, the Associated Students of UW Bothell, to represent the campus on the Provost’s Advisory Committee for Students. The PACS is a groups of students who are asked to share their perspectives and offer advice about University budgets and initiatives with the provost.

“It was a really rewarding role,” Galil said. “During meetings, I spoke on different topics that relate to the accessibility of education, such as making sure online lectures were being recorded.”

This last year, the final 30 minutes of each committee meeting were set aside for students to share how they were coping during the pandemic. “As a representative for the campus, my primary concern was always the well-being of my fellow students,” Galil said. “We listened to their needs and tried to take any action necessary to support them.”

Yet another way Galil worked to serve his fellow students was by launching a new club on campus. “After speaking with my peers I realized that there was no pre-dental community on campus, so I founded the Pre-Dental Youth Club,” he said. “I envisioned a community where students could empower and support one another throughout their dental academic endeavors.”

Ian Zamora, program manager for the Student Diversity Center, said that the phrase “actions speak louder than words” has been a consistent description of Galil’s character, work ethic and service ethos.

“I am honored to have Pavly as a representative of the University of Washington because of his commitment and passion to, and for, the community he serves,” he said. “He embodies the mission, vision and values of the University.”

Expanding volunteer opportunities

Galil’s concern for other young people also extends off campus. Knowing there was a shortage of volunteer opportunities due to the pandemic, Galil wanted to create a worthwhile activity for members of the dental club he founded and served as president. With fellow club officers, he developed the Happy Tooth Volunteering Program, the first dental outreach program at UW Bothell.

“Dental outreach is very important, and we wanted to start with children to lay the groundwork for a future of oral health and hygiene,” he said. To do so, the club had to contact dozens of different elementary schools within the region.

“It was really challenging at first,” said Galil. “Sometimes we wouldn’t hear back, or if we did, we would only get one response which was not enough engagement to schedule something.”

The club members remained committed, however, and eventually got the program up and running with hundreds of young school children in the area.

“We started doing Zoom sessions, sometimes back-to-back for an entire school day,” Galil said. “Each session, we would help at least 120 children learn the fundamentals of oral hygiene. We would talk about what bacteria can grow in our mouths and demonstrate how to properly brush our teeth and use mouthwash.

“This was information I wish I had been exposed to as a kid growing up in Egypt.”

A life-changing moment

Galil decided he wanted to become a dentist when he was 15 years old. He was serving as a scout leader during a church summer camp when a boy he was responsible for started crying from tooth pain. “He was so upset,” Galil said. “He was in agony, but he was also terrified of going to the dentist.”

Fortunately, one of the troop leaders was a dentist who was able to comfort and reassure the boy. “That’s when I realized dentists can be compassionate and trustworthy health care professionals who can really make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “And that was the moment I knew what career I wanted to pursue.”

Close to a decade later, Galil is graduating summa cum laude this summer with a bachelor’s in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. He says he is now preparing to apply to dental school so he can make yet another of his dreams to serve others come true.

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