Though he opened a thriving plastic surgery practice on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Dr. Steven Dayan wanted more. The dad of three, who had been working since the age of 13, hoped to open life’s possibilities to children who otherwise might be overlooked in inner-city schools.
“I’m a strong believer that education is the key to breaking down barriers, defeating prejudice and increasing self-esteem,” says Dayan, 42.
He’s put money where his mouth is, pledging to build a school in Cambodia, opening his practice to high school interns from inner-city schools and establishing the Enhance Foundation to fund college scholarships for students who dream against the odds.
“You hope to make an impact somewhere,” he says.
How do you juggle everything (working with students, your practice, research, speeches and your family)?
“My staff jokes that I don’t sleep, they plug me in at night, and the truth is I don’t sleep a whole bunch.” He says his schedule is a constant struggle, but he makes sure he is there for most of his girls’ activities. Their special day is Sunday. On warm, sunny Sundays, he wakes them early, puts down the top on his convertible, cranks up the Jackson Five, and they drive to Wisconsin for breakfast. “It’s special alone time with the three of them. I’m hoping they remember that forever.”
What do your girls think about what you do?
Like all parents, he and wife Elise want to instill the spirit of charity in their girls, Arielle, 11, Alexandra, 8, and Noa, 6. “How do you instill in your kids that the world is not like here everywhere?” he wonders aloud. He often shows them the scholarship application essays. “I want my kids who live in this nice suburban house to read what some other kids are going through in this world and how much they appreciate the opportunity to go to college.”
Advice to other parents trying to teach charitable lessons in their own homes "It's got to start at home. They've got to see you do it." What would his girls say about him? He laughs. "I'm a terrible singer." He'd also like to think they are proud of him.