Dentist at your doorstep

Dr. Rhona Sherwin is the director of pediatric outreach at the Stony Brook School of Dentistry. (Photo by Jenn Cirigliano.)

By Adeishe Bagaloo
Uniondale High School

and Christian Miller
St. John the Baptist High School

For dentist Rhona Sherwin, nothing matters more than helping children.

“That’s our main goal, to make sure the children are well taken care of,” Sherwin said.

A Stony Brook University alumna, Sherwin is a clinical professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Dentistry, in the department of orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. As the director of pediatric outreach, Sherwin organizes dental care events throughout Long Island.

“Whatever the child needs, we’ll take care of it,” Sherwin said. “We don’t turn anybody away that cannot afford it.”

Among those events is Give Kids a Smile, a free dental care clinic offered by appointment for any child up to age 17. The clinic, scheduled for August 28, is sponsored by the American Dental Association. The five-hour program is expected to treat approximately 400 kids, up from 300 last year.

“We have faculty that are more than willing to volunteer,” Sherwin said. “We pair them with dental students, who work in teams.”

Xiomara Aguirre visited the dental care center Thursday with her 2-year-old daughter, Casey Flores.

“A friend recommended it to me. She’s been with them for 10 years,” Aguirre said. “It’s pretty cool. I love it.”

Sherwin’s team of dentists takes their show on the road in the dental school’s mobile office, a modified 40-foot van with room for treating three patients at a time. The van, purchased through a New York HEAL grant, enables the team to treat patients who lack transportation.

“We’ve been to homeless shelters, elementary schools, and crisis family centers,” Sherwin said.

Treating homeless patients is especially rewarding, Sherwin said.

“I think they’re very appreciative because their living situation is so difficult,” she said. “This is one other thing that they don’t have to think about, taking care of their child’s oral health.”

Sherwin and her team advertise their programs at churches, libraries, hospitals and other community partners.

“I’m very proud of where we started,” Sherwin said, “and we’re still building.”

Nijha Young: Unafraid to challenge herself

By Christian Miller
St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School

Nijha Young has embraced writing since she was only a few years old.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” said the soon-to-be senior at Baldwin High School. “Teachers helped me develop it more and complimented me on it. It’s been like a method of expression that I feel suits me more than other things.”

The 16-year-old Roosevelt resident said she receives strong support for her writing from her parents, older sister, teachers and friends. Her father, Patrick Young, said he is extremely proud of his daughter. “When reading her writing, it’s like I am in the story and can visualize the scenery and follow the plot,” he said.

Writing school essays might be boring to some, but Nijha said she treats it as a challenge. She enjoys analytical papers the most, and has written about complex characters such as Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. Nijah said she would also like to try new kinds of writing. “I have an interest in creative writing,” she says, “but I’d have to work more at it.”

Nijha is involved in many school activities: the trivia club, mock trial, sign language club and stage crew. She is also the event coordinator for the school band’s executive board and has been an AIDS peer educator since freshman year. Nijha likes meeting others in these programs with similar goals. “It’s a good way to meet people you wouldn’t meet in your classroom,” she said.

As for college, Nijha said she is particularly interested in Georgetown but has also scheduled visits for Northeastern and Harvard. She takes interest in these schools because of their out-of-state, yet close-to-home distance. To help her get into these schools, she plans to take advanced placement Italian and has already taken advanced placement United States history and physics.

With a packed class schedule, Nijha said she finds it hard to balance her out-of-school and in-school writing.

“It’d be nice to write about things I’m more interested in,” she says, “and explore my interests and skills.”