This year, I was required to get a dental examination upon entering 7th grade.

I was a little confused because I already go to the dentist every 6 months!

So, I did a little research concerning this topic, and I found 7th and 3rd graders all over Pennsylvania are required to get dental check-ups. I’m not alone! I really didn’t mind going to the dentist anyway, though; nobody in my family does because my dentist is smart and kind.

My dentist is working hard to ensure that every child’s smile is healthy and bright. My dentist, Dr. Stephanie Hanyon, specializes in Pediatrics and just so happens to be my cousin.

“When your intentions turn towards success, success will turn its intention towards you.” -Joshua Aaron Gullory

I always bragged about how my Pediatric Dentist is my cousin. She’s really cool, really pretty, really smart and very funny.

The thing is she wasn’t always a dentist.

This really surprised me because she’s an excellent dentist working in a new state of art, award winning and most importantly kid approved facility (I mean, they play Moana in every room).

Dr. Hanyon grew-up in Clarks Summit. She states that it has a “homey-feel”

She originally went to Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland for Elementary Education and Special Ed. Minor. At Loyola, she played tennis on their team in competitions.

Dr. Hanyon says that she doesn’t really play now though, but is still fun to do (she’s being humble though - she was a nationally ranked tennis player).

Dr. Hanyon came home from four years of college to spend the next year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

The Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) is made up volunteers to help poor communities and people in need.

Dr. Hanyon was the Education Coordinator in JVC for underprivileged kids in schools, and ran summer programs. “It was truly a humbling experience…you were sent into a room with people to help others, and it was just very humbling.”

While she was in JVC, a woman gave her a quote, and a very important one and she says it really shaped how she viewed everything she did:

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.

“What you are in love with, what ceases your imagination, will affect everything.

“It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” –Pedro Arrupe, SJ.

Dr. Hanyon explains that at first she was confused in why the woman gave her a quote about falling in love, but she explains: “But, the more you read it, the more you understand it isn’t about falling in love, it’s about falling in love with what you do every day.”

After spending a year working with JVC, she went home and decided that education might not be what she was meant to do. Dr. Hanyon stated that her father, Dr. Charles Potter, was a very big influence on her. She grew up watching him excel in the field of dentistry and he was her model to follow.

Dr. Potter was supportive when she told him that she wanted to become a dentist. She had a great role model to follow.

Dr. Potter had a fantastic practice and his patients loved him. He was my mom’s dentist!

So she began her path to becoming a great dentist like her dad. She transitioned into dental school from The University of Scranton.

Dr. Hanyon then stated she went to Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. to get her Dental degree. While Dr. Stephanie was at Temple University, she wasn’t just worrying about her grades, she was also worrying about the children around her every day.

She was the Co-founder and Vice-President of Obtaining Wonderful Smiles, which provided dental care and education to disadvantaged schools in North Philadelphia- the O.W.L. program.

People were noticing how committed she was to doing the best for her patients and she was awarded the International Congress of Oral Implantology AND the Edward Band Arnold R. Cook Award in children’s dentistry.

She went on to complete a two year Pediatric Dental Residency at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, which is also located in Philadelphia. Dr. Hanyon was the Chief Resident of the dental clinic, pretty cool right?!?

Finally, to top that all off, Dr. Hanyon completed a general practice Residency at Sacred Heart Hospital, Allentown.

Dr. Stephanie now works and resides in Clarks Summit with Dr. Kristen Paoli. She and her husband, Randy Hanyon, have two sons named Alexander and Anthony.

She loves working with children. She says, “Even if they are upset with you, they always will give you a smile at the end. It’s fun.”

So, yeah, I have a pretty good reason to brag about my awesome cousin, and when I go to get my next dental checkup my dentist will be there to keep me smiling in more ways than one.

Dr. Hanyon has lived a famous quote by Mother Teresa literally and figuratively, “We shall never know the good that a simple smile can do.”

Who knows, maybe I’ll be a Pediatric Dentist, community leader and volunteer like Dr. Stephanie Hanyon someday.