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This week’s installment of Moments That Matter comes from Peter Franco, who as a Tufts-Schweitzer Fellow in Boston last year (along with partner Sarah Schlansker) collaborated with the Pediatric Program at Tufts to provide dental care to underserved children in a school environment. He says:

Franco with one of his young clients.

“I went to get a patient from his 2nd grade classroom … he was so apprehensive and nervous about seeing the dentist, as he had a bad experience a couple of years ago and ‘didn’t want to get a needle.’

After I sat him down and reassured him that we weren’t going to be giving him any novocaine, he calmed down and we were able to complete all of the procedures. After we were finished, I was walking him back to his classroom, and when we got to the door he walked right in and sat down.

[Then] he turned around, walked back towards me, and said, ‘You know, I used to want to be a firefighter, but now I want to be a dentist.’

… Who knows whether or not this little guy will be a dentist or not when he grows up, but even if I removed the nervousness that surrounds the dentist, and he actually looks forward to [visits] — or at the very least isn’t scared any more — that is what really made me happy and proud to be a Schweitzer Fellow.”

About Moments That Matter

Each year, approximately 200 Schweitzer Fellows across the U.S. commit themselves to creating and carrying out an intense yearlong service project that addresses unmet health needs — all on top of their typical graduate school responsibilities.

It’s an awe-inspiring commitment — and one that may at times seem thankless.

But for each Schweitzer Fellow, there are those sustaining moments — the moments when things “click,” and you have instant, inspiring proof that your Schweitzer project is making a difference that’s rippling outward. These, like the Moment above, are the Moments That Matter — and here at Beyond Boulders we are spotlighting them every Tuesday.