Successful dentist Antoine Skaff is one who believes that success doesn’t come without hard work. After all, it was in 1976 that he fled his home country by boat to escape a civil war and move to Ottawa, Canada.
It wouldn’t be until years later that he would move to West Virginia, study to become a dentist and eventually open his own practice.
Antoine Skaff has dedicated his life to helping his patients and his family, and he says his hard work in the early days was well worth it.
Today, Skaff has agreed to share his immigrant success story with us, and elaborate on the factors that contributed to his success along the way. He says that if his story can help people in similar situations, or even people who are considering studying abroad, that it would make him happy.
When he was attending the University of Ottawa, Skaff suddenly became ill and spent multiple weeks in hospital. For that reason, he was unable to complete his third year of studies.
When one of Skaff’s cousins was visiting from Charleston, West Virginia to care for him, she introduced him to the educational opportunities in West Virginia. Skaff, feeling inspired, decided to transfer his credits and begin studying there. Little did he know he would eventually pass the Dentistry Board and become a full-time working dentist with his own practice in West Virginia.
When it came to opening his own practice, Skaff was short of cash. Even though he had been saving as much as possible, avoiding paying even a taxi fare, and living in a 10×10 apartment as a student, he was unable to come up with the capital to open his own dental practice.
That was when Skaff went to Huntington Bank to get a $55,000 loan to buy a run down practice in Nitro, West Virginia.
“The owner at the time had Parkinsons and wanted to retire, so I bought the practice from him,” says Skaff.
When Skaff started at his new practice, he remembers only seeing one patient per day, or multiple if he was lucky. Sooner or later, however, Skaff was busier than ever and was able to open a second practice.
This was a pivotal moment in his career because it meant that he had finally made it on his own as a dentist.
“Since I’ve stopped working, many times I’ve run into patients that told me that I was good to them and that I treated them promptly and fairly. I was a good dentist and always tended to their dental emergencies immediately,” says Skaff.
When asked how he wants to be remembered, Skaff said: “I want to be remembered as that compassionate, fair and good dentist that went out of his way to help others.”
Skaff is always finding new ways to educate and inspire upcoming dentists, whether it be taking a teaching position at the West Virginia Institute of Technology to teach dental hygiene, or sharing his knowledge and experience on digital platforms – he gets a sense of pride from helping others.