The following was written by Karen Chambers, the Director of Surgical Technology at Eastwick College.
Early in my career as a certified surgical technologist working in Manhattan, I was fortunate to work with talented plastic surgeons doing amazing work. But a day that I will never forget was when I assisted for a cleft-lip surgery for the first time. Witnessing that child’s transformation inspired me to learn more about clefts online, and it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon stories about Smile Train’s work with local surgeons around the world — I was impressed.
In 2009, I was working at the Eastwick College Surgical Technology Department, and the department was looking for an organization to support for our seminal annual event, “Surgical Technology Week.” Because a primary determining factor was an organization that exemplified the impact surgical technologists make in local communities, I pitched Smile Train, and thankfully the Dean of Academic Advising and my colleagues agreed.
In planning for our inaugural event, the students and staff decided that selling homemade lunches and dinners for $5 a plate in our college cafeteria would be a great way to raise funds and awareness for Smile Train — everyone has to eat, especially hungry college students. And to raise even more funds, students shared Smile Train fundraising materials with their family and friends.
When the day finally came, our surgical technology students and staff, dressed in their Smile Train t-shirts, decorated the cafeteria and filled warming trays with homecooked meals and baked goods. All the effort was worth it, as much of the Eastwick campus lined up to pay their $5. The event was a success.
So much of a success, in fact, that we have repeated the event for Surgical Technology Week every year since. This May, we raised the funds for 11 smiles, which brought us to the grand total of 100 smiles — what a milestone!
There are too many people to thank for the sustained success we’ve had over the past nine years, but the impact of the collaboration between our incredible students, staff, and community is undeniable. The goals we had for the event back in 2009 have been achieved and surpassed—every year we reinforce the importance of surgical technologists, the mission of Eastwick College, and Smile Train’s vision that every child deserves to smile.
Visit the Students page of our site to learn more about how your school can help create smiles.