Annual $500 Scholarship

$500 College Scholarship Criteria

  1. Must be a graduating senior who is applying to college
  2. Must be a current or previous patient of Dr. Sanford’s
  3. Must write a paper -1 to 2 pages, any genre, on “The Power of a Smile.” CREATIVITY RULES!
  4. Entries must be original work, accompanied by a contest cover sheet which is completed and signed by both the applicant and parent.
  5. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME ON YOUR ESSAY! You will be disqualified if you do so. Your cover sheet will identify the essay as yours.
  6. Submit entries by mail to:

    Sanford Orthodontics/Barbara Cimino
    1353 Prince Rodgers Ave.
    Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Deadline for all submissions: Monday, April 29, 2019

For anonymity each submission will be assigned a number and our selection committee will review each essay. The chosen winner will receive the Scholarship during the High School’s Award Night.

Click here to download the Scholarship Application

2018 $500.00 Scholarship Winner
Kate Gallagher


The Power of a Smile

It is often said that the eyes are the window to the soul. But I believe that this statement is overlooking one thing: the smile. The smile of pure love and joy is what brightens the eyes makes the skin glow, and rejuvenates every person to an almost childish place of happiness. To me, a smile is the first thing I notice about someone, and one of the most attractive features.

This is why I find one of the saddest things to be the insecurity that some have surrounding their smile. When someone pulls a hand up to hide when they laugh, looks down as joy comes over them until the smile fades from their face, or even bats an eye over their own self-consciousness when they would otherwise be filled with happiness, my heart breaks. How can someone possibly feel bad about the one thing that makes every single person so wildly beautiful?

But then, I guess, it doesn’t take much. One comment to a child about buck teeth or having a “big” smile can steal the innocence of pure joy forever. It only takes one thoughtless word said to someone to create an insecurity around their smile that can be very difficult to reverse. However, this is Dr. Sanford’s specialty.

When I see pictures of myself as a child, I’m reminded of all the years that I thought my front teeth were way too big and not quite white enough. I would sometimes smile without showing my teeth to compensate for these small insecurities. One time, someone close to me commented that I was giving them a sneaky smile, like I was “up to no good.” I didn’t mean for it to look like a smirk, it was just how I smile in a small way to cover my big crooked front teeth.

I started staring at the floor when I smiled about little moments, or covering my mouth when I laughed too hard. Dr. Sanford and his staff not only straighten teeth, but rebuild the confidence in their patients. Each time I walked into the office, I was greeted with countless smiles and a chocolate chip cookie. Everyone in the office knew each patient by name, making us all feel more welcomed, respected, and comfortable. Going to the orthodontist was like going to see a bunch of friends dressed in blue.

When I had appointments, the dental assistants would talk to me, always remembering my involvement in music, sports, 4H, and other activities. They would ask about school and how my extracurriculars were going, showing that I was cared for and appreciated, and treated like a friend that they only got to see every couple months. There would always have good music, dance parties, corny jokes, and lots of laughter. Smiles, no matter the shape or size, were freely expressed in Dr. Sanford’s office; but to make sure, the infamous “smile-maker” tool could be used to guarantee a laugh during every appointment.

I only had two years of appointments, as Sanford Orthodontics works quickly, but in that time, Dr. Sanford and his staff not only straightened my teeth, they also built my confidence. Even when I had wires on my teeth, I began smiling more freely and even liked the different colored rubber bands that I could use, often matching them to holidays or seasons. I began to appreciate the smile I had, and realized that my smile brought out my dimples and eyes.

Looking back, I always saw pure beauty in others when they smiled, but not in my own. Over the past few years, I have attended mission trips with my youth group. We often work with children from underprivileged backgrounds and broken homes. It is difficult to imagine the hardships that these children face each day, one young boy even describing how his blind grandfather would walk him to school each day, then walk home alone by memory and listening to his surroundings. However, I always noticed that the children never seemed to be brought down by this. The brightest smiles I have ever seen were from kids who, by some standards, would have every justification to be angry or upset. I would notice their beautiful smiles, and couldn’t help but smile myself.

Those pure, bright smiles are often even contagious, and because of Dr. Sanford, I began to see the beauty in my own smile. When I finally got my braces off and walked the red carpet, my smile came through more often than ever and my laugh was never hidden behind a raised hand. It was even a little bit sad leaving the office that day. I was glad to have the “smile of my life,” but would honestly miss my friends at Sanford Orthodontics. I would miss the welcoming atmosphere, endless laughs, and constant smiles. However, I knew that with my perfectly aligned teeth and newly instilled confidence in both my smile and myself, which I gained from the staff, I was ready to grab some popcorn and take on the world, dimples and all.

2017 $500.00 Scholarship Winner
Ms. Olivia Ortelli

The Power of a Smile

Before Dr. Sanford helped align my teeth, I was unsure about my smile. Growing up I remember receiving the same comment from my mom, “your smile looks fake.” Like most mom’s, she meant well, but her comment made me feel even more self-conscious. I am very grateful that Sanford Orthodontics gave me the opportunity to develop a real smile. While I could spend the next several paragraphs describing how Dr. Sanford physically helped my smile via braces and rubber bands, I believe Dr. Sanford’s greatest help with “fixing” my smile was in a less tangible way. After receiving treatment from Dr. Sanford and his staff, I had a newfound confidence that helped me begin to develop into the successful and happy student, athlete, and individual I see in the mirror.

Like many teenage girls, taped to my bathroom mirror are several photographs from events like bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteen’s, and prom. I’m able to glance at the photos and back to my reflection and notice the differences in my physical features, appreciating how I developed over the years. Regardless of how many times I look at the pictures bordering my mirror, I am always drawn to the photograph of myself gleaming a real and bright smile, while dancing at a prom I attended last June. To this day, this particular prom is my favorite experience from high school. While this dance did not require a party bus followed by a trip to Seaside, it was a special and heart touching night.

The prom I speak of was my school’s first P.E. Partners prom. The P.E. Partners program at Bridgewater Raritan Regional High School is an effort to promote inclusiveness by partnering atypically developing students with typically developing peers. By being a member of P.E. Partners, I was able to learn by doing, not by reading a book or listening to a lecture. I was able to learn about inclusiveness and equality. Some of my P.E. Partners peers do not have the ability to communicate by speaking. However through my time participating in the program I have learned that communication is much more than sounds vibrating through the air. Communication includes a smirk, a laugh, a hug, a wave, a few seconds of eye contact, or simply a smile.

My favorite picture on my mirror captures me and my friend dancing to the song “Cotton Eye Joe.” Surrounding us are our peers laughing and smiling as well. To this day, I remember the warmth and security I felt while being in the cafeteria that night. In particular, I remember admiring the beauty that my peers had on the inside that shined through on the outside. The P.E. Partners program has taught me the significance of recognizing someone’s heart. While I connect my appreciation and value of internal traits like a real heart when looking at photos of the smiles everyone shared at the prom. I realize now I learned this lesson a number of years ago when Dr. Sanford graduated me from my orthodontist program.

When I left the office that sunny day in June nearly five years ago, I realized that a smile is not “real” unless there is something substantial behind it. I began to recognize that physical traits like shiny whites would only reflect a shining heart and confidence if that was the road I choose to take in life. It was. I found new opportunities and experiences in high school, especially like P. E. Partners, that helped me focus my efforts towards what matters most of me. I will continue to follow this road next year as I attend The College of New Jersey and study psychology. Through my studies I know that I will learn more about how we think and what makes us smile. I thank Dr. Sanford and his staff for teaching my younger self that a smile is much more than a smile. A smile is confidence, kindness, compassion, passion, happiness, and love. A smile has the power to change a life, as it certainly has changed mine.

2016 $1,000.00 Scholarship Winner
Pooja Patel

The Power of a Smile

Smiles are forever powerful, a way to interpret a person’s emotions and feelings; a window into someone’s soul. It is that very understanding of the impact a smile can have that has inspired me to become a dentist myself.

My passion for dentistry began when I was a young child. Because I sucked my thumb until I was nine, I had buck teeth. When I started school, I became self-conscious about my smile. In my elementary school years, Dr. Sanford was my hero. My phase 1 treatment transformed me from a bunny to a person with a real smile. You could now see my full smile, rather than the two protruding teeth. I hadn’t realized that a smile gives the first impression, and changes everything. I want to be the doctor that can help a child be confident with their smile – whether it be fixing their crooked teeth like Dr. Sanford did for me, or instilling great hygiene values for life as a pediatric dentist.

From all the times I have been to Dr. Sanford’s office, since elementary school for phase 1, then phase 2, and most of my twin sister’s appointments, and even having the amazing opportunity to shadow the doctor and spend time with him for a day, I saw the compassion and care with which he treated patients. Even while reprimanding them to wear their retainers or follow proper hygiene procedures, he was able to effectively get the message across without being aggressive or getting angry. As a dentist, I want to have such a special kind of connection with my patients, and be able to make children feel comfortable in dental chairs at any early age – possibly reduce the dental fear stigma for my patients? The smiles of Dr. Sanford and all of the staff has made the office a happy, and inviting place, that I would even look forward to going to. The stash of cookies and cake on the table might have helped too…

I have been told various times that I have a great smile. It does wonders for me. It allows me to express the always happy person I already am, and it has given me a “quality,” by which I will be remembered – my smile and my optimistic personality. My smile is my identity, and I hope to be able to do what Dr. Sanford did for me for other children as well. Being the shy person that I am, my smile allows me to express my happiness and invite people to talk to me, conveying emotions without even speaking. My smile means so much to me, and I am doing everything I can to preserve it in terms of retainer-wearing and teeth brushing.

So, for me, smiles are extremely powerful, to the extent that I am basing my career on fixing them. I intend to pursue my dream and give other children the smile that changed my life, especially by attending UPENN’s 7-year bio-dental program in the fall! As corny as it sounds, a smile’s power has changed my life.

2015 $1,000.00 Scholarship Winner
Lindsey Yarrington

The Power of a Smile

The mouth has been used to communicate for thousands of years; creating and evolving language; building relationships and forming smiles. But what about those who are deaf? Unable to hear language formed from the mouth. Desperate to build relationships, but unable to form language from the mouth. Yet, there is power in the smallest of smiles.

Going on my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic three years ago was an incredible experience; not only because of the work we did, but because of the rare opportunity I was presented with, the strong friendship that developed as a result. I had been studying American Sign Language for a year and a half, and once we got to the village that we partner with, I discovered that I had a connection to someone that no one else on the trip had. The daughter of the pastor in the village, Keren, was deaf. She knew no English, and her Spanish was difficult for us Americans to comprehend, but she knew some sign language. I was unable to speak Spanish at the time, but I knew sign language like she did. Many of the Americans who knew Spanish felt uncomfortable talking with her because they did not know how to act around a deaf person, and it was hard to understand her Spanish because of her altered speech due to being born deaf. I began to notice that when the "Americans" were in the village, she was often off to the side, observing, and being stared at blankly by the American team who felt awkward trying to communicate with her.

We made eye contact through the crowd of people around us, and I smiled, knowing that it was pointless to speak Spanish to her because I didn't know how. I hoped in my mind that she would smile back and we could sign to each other. Her eyes lit up and she smiled back at me and waved. From across that room, through a sea of people using their mouths to talk and build relationships, we started our relationship from a little smile. A little smile between an English speaker and a Spanish speaker opened a door and created a friendship that I never could have imagined three years later looking back on that moment. After we shared a smile, I walked over to her, introduced myself, and told her what my name was in sign language, all while watching the smile on her face get bigger and bigger. The whole week spent with Karen was full of smiles, laughter, a lot of moving hands and silent mouths.

I underestimated the power that a smile can have on someone who feels like an outsider. Now three years later looking back, I have realized just how powerful that little smile was in making a lifelong bond and friendship between Keren and I. I had never imagined that we would be getting in trouble with her dad this past February for having full conversations together in ASL and giggling when we aren't supposed to.

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