Jaehee Yoo, dental hygiene candidate 2015, recently received the Ronald W. Hyatt Rotary Public Service Award, sponsored annually by the Chapel Hill Rotary Club and administered by the Carolina Center for Public Service. Two awards – one for a local project and one for an international project – are awarded each year; Yoo won the single award for a local project.
As an award recipient, Yoo was awarded $1,500 for her proposed program, “Prevention through Education,” to offer dental health services to the refugee and immigrant families at Oak Creek Village in Durham, N.C. She plans to partner with a group from the UNC School of Medicine to also offer education about the importance of oral health and its impact on systemic health. The focus of the care and the education will be on oral care early in life to prevent early childhood caries, or decay, in young children.
“I am truly thankful to receive this award. As a first-generation immigrant myself, I can only imagine the cultural and economic hardships these families, especially those with children, are experiencing,” said Yoo. “To serve the Oak Creek community in this capacity provides a unique opportunity for students and faculty – in dentistry, public health and medicine – to incorporate their respective knowledge and skills to improve the oral health of some of the most vulnerable people in our community: immigrants and refugees. Together, we are not only addressing their oral conditions and subsequent health disparities but also developing cultural competency to further meet the dental needs of our increasingly diverse world.”
Based on Yoo’s proposal, the program will occur this fall and will involve school faculty and students, as well as a number of community volunteers. One day of the program will focus on education and the second will focus on providing the necessary clinical care for the children.
The Hyatt award was named for the late Dr. Ronald W. Hyatt in recognition of his distinguished career at the University and his commitment to helping others. The award is given to innovative projects which exemplify the concept of “service above self,” the motto of Rotary International.