MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This weekend, a Minnesotan will realize a career dream that started in Mogadishu.

A decade after moving from Somalia, Dr. Mohamed M. Ali will officially open his dental practice in south Minneapolis near Lake Nokomis.

The finishing touches are underway at Lakeshore Dental, but Dr. Ali has already started seeing patients. He practices with ease, but it was a difficult road to get here. He grew up amidst civil war.

“When I was really young, my dad took me to downtown Mogadishu to a dentist for a toothache that I had, and that was my first contact to dentistry,” Dr. Ali said.

It wasn’t until his early 20s that he was able to get to Minnesota, enrolling at the University of Minnesota, then continuing to dental school.

Dr. Mohamed M. Ali (credit: CBS)

“The best part of being a dentist is seeing that patient of yours that walks in in pain, and leaves without pain thanking to you,” Dr. Ali said. “It’s really rewarding.”

While he offers dual-language services, he says he’s here to serve all Minnesotans.

“Actually, a lot of, you know, our patients, they see us as a dentist, not as a Somali … regardless of where we come from,” he said.

And dental assistant students see him as inspiration.

“It gives us hope. It gives me hope as somebody who was not born here, as well, to at least work towards a goal that I had before coming here,” said dental assistant Michael Grant. “So just stick to it, and just keep working towards them, and one day you just may have a very big building like this!”

So in more ways than one, Dr. Ali is giving people a reason to smile.

He will open his practice Saturday morning with a grand opening, and he’ll be working hard — practicing six days a week.

Dr. Ali says he is the fourth Somali-American dentist to open a Twin Cities practice over the past eight years.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield