SPECTRUM: Illuminating Smiles: The Impact of Give Kids a Smile® at Roseman Dental in Utah

March 11, 2024 By Carson Fry

In its 12th consecutive year, the Give Kids a Smile® event at Roseman Dental has once again proven to be a beacon of hope and support for hundreds of families in need of dental care. This annual event, organized by the Roseman Dental Clinic in South Jordan, Utah, in collaboration with national sponsors Marathon Petroleum and American Dental Association, aims to provide free dental services to underserved children and families in the Salt Lake Valley community. This year’s event, held February 16, saw a record-breaking turnout, with 827 children receiving much-needed dental care and attention. 

Juan Arbizu, a Dental student at Roseman University College of Dental Medicine, shares his journey from finance to dentistry, reflecting on his own immigrant experience and the importance of accessible healthcare for all. Originally from El Salvador, Juan and his family immigrated to the United States when he was just a child. “After the end of El Salvador’s civil war, we had to leave the country under the guise of going to visit family,” Juan explains. “Fearing for our safety, we had no choice but to seek refuge in the United States.” 

Growing up in an underserved area of Salt Lake City, Juan experienced firsthand the challenges faced by families without access to adequate healthcare. “Things like dental, things like medical (care), they just weren’t available to us unless there was an event or somewhere that could offer those things at no cost,” he recalls. Despite the hardships, Juan remained resilient, eventually finding his calling in dentistry. 

“After spending almost 10 years in finance, I finally realized that it just wasn’t for me,” Juan shares. “I wanted to do something where I could make a difference, where I could help people without the constraints of corporate interests.” Inspired by his own experiences, Juan pursued a career in healthcare, choosing dentistry for its hands-on nature and ability to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. 

As a student at Roseman University College of Dental Medicine, Juan found a supportive community that aligned with his values and goals. “I found a program here at Roseman where the block schedule offered a lot more opportunity for me to be able to spend time with family and manage my time a little bit better,” he explains. “It was a huge blessing for me to find out that there was a program that would give me the opportunity to still be a dad and continue with my education.” 

For Juan, taking part in events like Give Kids a Smile® holds a special significance. “It’s humbling because I see a lot of those kids and I see a lot of what I went through,” he says. “To them, they’re coming to an event where they get to play games and meet cool people who are going to clean their teeth. But for their parents, it means so much more.” 

Through his involvement in the event, Juan hopes to inspire others and break the cycle of limited opportunities. “Events like these set an example for these kids to have something to look forward to and to look at that they can eventually try to emulate,” he emphasizes. “It’s easy to feel like you don’t deserve much in life because of the situation you’re in. But these events show a different light of what’s out there and can make a powerful impact.” 

Roseman University strives to be an active member of the community, offering support and resources to those in need. “These events demonstrate our commitment to serving the community and providing access to quality healthcare for all,” Juan notes. “Roseman University is not just about degrees; it’s about making a difference and building a better future for everyone.” 

Give Kids a Smile® at Roseman Dental continues to exemplify the power of compassion, generosity, and community engagement. Through the dedication of students like Juan Arbizu and the support of organizations like Marathon Petroleum and American Dental Association, countless families have received the gift of brighter smiles and better health. As Juan eloquently puts it, “It’s a privilege to be able to give back to my community and provide care to those who need it most.”