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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

May 10, 2019

Matriarch, Mother and Mentor

By Deirdre Flanagan Ward

Dr. Raja Barakat holmdel samra

Meet Dr. Raja Barakat, a local pediatrician who has been a Monmouth County resident and an integral part of the community for 30 years.

“I love Monmouth County and have enjoyed living on my farm for the past 30 years,” Barakat said. She admits the landscape has changed in the last three decades, and what once was very rural has since developed. But her piece of land – her sanctuary – has mostly remained the same. “We have several farm animals such as alpacas, cows, goats, parrots, chickens and dogs. It’s a very enjoyable place to look out upon each day.”

When not spending time on the farm, Barakat focuses on her patients at Samra Pediatric Group, which has also been a staple in the Holmdel Community for 30 years.

“I always knew from a young age that I wanted to be a pediatrician,” she said. “I wanted to work with children and parents to help them live a healthy life and a happy life.” She was elected as Chair for the Department of Pediatrics at Bayshore Community Hospital.

She said the best part of her job is seeing sick children get better and well children smile after a visit with the doctor. “I have to give immunizations sometimes and if they’re smiling at the end of the visit, I know I made a not-so-great experience tolerable. Lollipops are also helpful. I keep a pocketful.”

Dr. Raja Barakat holmdel pediatrics

And though she’s been recognized many times for her professional accomplishments, she admitted, “My greatest achievements, personally, are my four gorgeous children. I have four sons with my husband, Said Samra.” Three of the sons work alongside Dr. Samra as plastic surgeons, and the fourth is a banker in a leading firm.

Outside her professional practice, Barakat likes to travel, take in the arts, and particularly enjoys visiting family and spending time with her grandchildren. She’s also very involved in giving back.

Barakat is involved with charity organizations such as SAMS Foundation, a non-political, professional organization, representing Syrian-American medical professionals in the United States. The nonprofit provides assistance to Syrians in need through medical missions, medical equipment and other types of humanitarian aid.

She continually provides sponsorships for The Foundation for MERS (Manalapan-Englishtown Regional Schools), a nonprofit organization formed by dedicated parents and community members to enhance the education of the students in the district;  ACAP iStrive, a Saturday program which The Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis organization created for young adults on the autism spectrum who are aging out of most services; and the Rockit Live Foundation, a nonprofit organization that enables young musicians ages 8 to 18 join in a premier rock ’n’ roll band experience that culminates with a live performance on the concert stage of the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.

In addition to her professional achievements and community involvement, one of Barakat’s greatest accomplishments is the love and respect of her family as both a mother and a mentor.

“My mom represents strength, intelligence and determination. She always made me feel safe as my pediatrician, and now she does the same for my children. There is no better doctor in the world!”

– Salem Samra, M.D., F.A.C.S.

“My mother is easily the strongest, most selfless and smartest person I’ve ever met. Despite being a fulltime pediatrician and managing our massive family, she had a way of making sure we always knew how much she loved and supported us. This was true regardless of if we were children living at home, away for school or work, or even on the other side of the world. She is the cornerstone of our family. We are so incredibly lucky to have her.”

– Fares Samra, M.D.

“If you’re looking for the secret to 99 percent of my mother’s success, I’ll tell you in just one word: love. Honest, fierce, unwavering love that drives her every movement as a physician, a friend, a wife and a mother. But don’t underestimate the kind of love I’m talking about; the kind of love that can shield, transform and push you all at the same time. The kind of love it takes to raise four children at home and care for every child in her practice as though they are her own. A love so strong that family and friends near and far feel they’re just as important to her as the person who is most important to her, my father. When she’s angry, sad, happy or glad – the only constant is love. If you’re wondering about the other 1 percent, I’ll tell you that, too: genius. Next time you see her, ask her to calculate the P&I on your mortgage and prepare to be dazzled.” – Maher Samra

“My mom has been a driving force in helping shape my success. I remember as a young man being concerned about my career path and how my mom would help guide and support my decisions. Her uncanny ability to juggle her professional, social and family obligations has been an inspiration. I strive to instill the same love and pride for family in my children as she has in me. She is truly the keystone of our family.” – Asaad H Samra, MD, FACS