For Immediate Release —February 27, 2009
David Irwin
Media Relations Manager
(585) 245-5516

SUNY Geneseo Student Wins CASE Award to Establish Dental Hygiene Education Program in Nicaragua

GENESEO, N.Y.—Alison Kornblatt, a junior at the State University of New York at Geneseo, is one of four students from New York colleges to receive a $1,000 award to participate in the Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur (CASE) Program.   Sponsored by the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership Foundation, the CASE program promotes service-learning and provides financial support to students who propose innovative ways to serve the community.

Kornblatt plans to initiate a long-term dental hygiene education campaign in Nicaragua this summer, where Geneseo operates an active service-learning program.  The campaign, “For the Future Smiles of El Sauce,” will teach proper dental hygiene and provide dental tools to the children in the municipality of El Sauce, an impoverished farming community in Nicaragua of about 10,000 people.  Kornblatt’s campaign targets children in the municipality´s capital and outlying, remote areas to significantly reduce the need for extractions and improve the dental hygiene of current and future generations of El Sauce residents.

Dr. Denis Roque Garcia is the single dentist at El Sauce’s public dental health clinic.  Private dental practices charge fees that greatly exceed the means of 95 percent of El Sauce residents.  As a result, poor oral hygiene is widespread in El Sauce, leading to a large number of extractions that Garcia must do.  Garcia estimates that he performs an average of 20 extractions per day.

Kornblatt plans on implementing her campaign with Garcia’s guidance and with the help of SUNY Geneseo’s pre-dental, biology, Spanish and education students, as well as dentistry students from other U.S. institutions.  Data on the number of extractions done by Garcia will be collected to determine areas of greatest need of instruction and supplies. During the summer, volunteers will spend three weeks at a time in El Sauce introducing effective dental hygiene practices, evaluating the campaign’s progress and answering any questions from the children.  Kornblatt will spend six weeks in El Sauce this summer.

“I have gotten a lot of support from the Geneseo community, especially from the pre-dental club,” said Kornblatt.  “I really want to make it the Dental Club’s project and something that continues on after I graduate.  I’m trying to get the word out about this project to anyone who would be interested, because you really don’t have to be pre-dental to participate. You could be any major.  Anyone can help,” she said.

Through this project, Kornblatt will learn how to educate a public with a completely different cultural background while combining her love for the Spanish language and culture with her interest in dentistry.

“I have heard so many great things about the community and people of El Sauce and I am just so excited,” said Kornblatt.

Funds for the CASE awards are provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930 “to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations.” The Foundation provides grants areas such as health; food systems and rural development; youth and education; and philanthropy and volunteerism.


This release was written by Carey Burgess, a senior communication major from Syracuse, N.Y., serving as a media relations intern in the Office of Communications and Publications.