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$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, one to two 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 26, 2021

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

 $500.00 Scholarship 2020 Winner
Julieta Altman

“The Power of a SMILE"

“Should we invite her over?” I whispered to my sister, Valentina.  We were on vacation in a resort and a girl was sitting alone, while we laughed and talked around her.  When I looked over at this stranger, I realized I had been in her place thousands of times before.

Ever since second grade, I had never been the first person to say hello.  That year, my dad had changed jobs, so we moved from Georgia to New Jersey.  I started in a new school, where the students had already known each other since kindergarten.  As an eight-year-old, two years felt like an eternity.  During the week, I consistently went to the nurse for “headaches” and had a routine in lock where I would stare at the box of fruit snacks on the top cupboard until the nurse would give in and sneak me a bag.  At lunch, all I wanted to do was draw fairies or read.  I knew my teacher meant well by dragging me to sit with a group of girls, but I had not made the effort by myself.

One of the biggest struggles most kids face is lack of confidence.  Just like every teenager, I was uncomfortable with myself, and it interfered with my ability to reach out, make new friends, speak out, etc.  Personally, in middle school, when I heard that I would be needing Invisalign, I was ecstatic.  Finally, I would be able to look in the mirror and love my smile.  I thought, “this will give me the push I need.”

At fifteen, I had finally grown to accept the challenges that come with meeting new people.  Thankfully, the teen club organizers took care of the awkward silence at the start. Unfortunately, that day, it was pouring outside, so someone proposed to start a card game.  That was when I noticed a girl that had arrived earlier that morning had joined us at the end of the table.  Throughout the entire lunch, she had not spoken a word, so everyone had turned a blind eye. Everyone but me.

She could join our game, “I suggested to Valentina.

We were a tight knit bunch, but I knew there would be room for one more, so I made the initial move.  I did not know what language she spoke, and my nerves started to spread.  We were surrounded by kids from all over the world each speaking different languages.  How could I communicate to her without words?

All it took was a smile in her direction.  That gave me the confidence to keep going.  “Hello. I mean, Hola, Bonjour?” I threw in some of the little bit of French I had picked up in middle school, “play cards?”

Now, her smile widened, “I would love to!” Fortunately, she spoke all three languages I had flustered out.  Once we all learned more about her, we idolized her.  She seemed straight out of a movie.  Her name was Africa, but her dad was from England, mom from Belgium, her sister was in New York City doing a summer camp, and she lived in Spain.  When I first moved to my rural town in Jersey, I thought I was nothing like these strange kids. Suddenly, I was meeting teenagers from Europe, Canada, Angola, and more.

The following years, we traveled to different countries where I made best friends who expanded my worldview with every conversation.  Becoming myself, unapologetically, required taking risks.  As sophomore year rolled around, surprisingly, I gathered the courage to run for student council, and I was elected.  I had evolved from a girl who was uncomfortable starting a conversation, to one who was lobbying in the cafeteria about her own merits in order to win an election. To grow as a person.  I had to make myself heard, but I also had to listen to those around me.  I realized that a simple smile goes a long way.


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