In higher education, students pursuing health science degrees often find themselves navigating rigorous academic programs alongside personal and cultural needs. Recognizing this, Drs. Rod Avraham Najibi and Daniella Orner Najibi, both dentists and JLIC directors at Santa Monica College (SMC), have taken it upon themselves to support these students in their journey towards success. Their dedication extends to nurturing a sense of community and belonging for Jewish students, particularly at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, where access to Jewish life and support systems is limited.

The journey of the Najibis began as JLIC alumni during their time at UCLA, where they crossed paths with the Kaplans, directors of JLIC West Coast. This connection laid the foundation for their commitment to serving the Jewish community, especially in academia. Today, they spend time on both SMC campuses, in Santa Monica and Malibu, offering support and guidance to students transitioning into advanced health science degrees. prelaw, and business.

JLIC West Coast Students from Santa Monica College at a lunch event

At Western University of Health Sciences, their presence is felt at least once a week, where they assist graduate students pursuing various medical and health science disciplines, including nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, dentistry, podiatry, optometry, pharmacy, osteopathic medicine, and veterinary studies. Recognized as official club advisors by the student association, a privilege typically reserved for university staff members, the Najibis receive all relevant campus communications and access to resources to better serve the needs of their students.

Understanding the challenges faced by Jewish students in a predominantly non-Jewish environment, the Najibis have expanded their efforts beyond academic support. They organize programs for Jewish holidays, ensuring access to kosher food for the hundreds of Jewish students on campus. Moreover, they have become mentors to many, offering guidance and a sense of belonging throughout their academic journey.

JLIC West Coast Grad Students at Western University of Health Sciences


Beyond campus walls, the Najibis recognized the importance of building a broader community for graduate students aged 22-30. They host weekly events in the Santa Monica and Pico Robertson areas of Los Angeles, catering to students from an array of campuses including Pepperdine, USC, Loyola, Southwestern, as well as those from Northern California. These events provide opportunities for networking, socializing, and finding support beyond the confines of academic life.

Central to the Najibis’ mission is their goal to be there for students through every stage of life. Whether as students, young professionals, or as they start families, the Najibis aim to provide a supportive network that transcends the academic realm. Their commitment to nurturing a vibrant and inclusive Jewish community within the health science field reflects their belief in the importance of holistic support for students striving for excellence in their chosen paths.

JLIC West Coast Health Science Students at Santa Monica College

The Najibis’ tireless dedication to supporting health science students through the JLIC West Coast effort exemplifies the transformative impact of community-building within academia. By fostering connections, providing resources, and offering mentorship, they empower students to thrive both academically and personally, ensuring that no student feels alone on their journey towards success.

Reach out to any of our Directors to learn more about JLIC and our programming.

Related Posts