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Jean Paul Laurent '07

Alumni Success Story

Jean Paul Laurent '07

picture of Jean Paul Laurent

Jean Paul Laurent ‘07 focuses his efforts on a pair of difficult issues: improving dental health and providing employment opportunities to women in developing countries. An immigrant from Haiti, Laurent says a pivotal step in his journey came at RCC, where he arrived in the fall of 2005 with much to learn about the English language and American culture.

Laurent is the founder of the Unspoken Smiles Foundation, a nonprofit organization currently providing aid in Haiti, Romania and Kurdistan. He was initially inspired by a trip to his native country after the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake. Studying at the time to be a dental hygienist, Laurent was struck by the extreme level of oral infection he saw in Haitian children. “People simply don’t have access to quality dental services,” he says.

In 2014, Laurent launched his organization with a three-pronged approach. Unspoken Smiles supports oral health education in schools in low-income areas, and also brings dental professionals to those regions to provide treatment. The third portion is the most innovative, a fellowship program training young women to become dental assistants. This not only brings dental care to these underserved areas, but also provides badly-needed employment to local women.

Laurent says none of this would have been possible if not for his experiences at RCC. Courses in English and Speech helped him master the language, as did RCC faculty who provided extra help. “I was shy because of the language barrier,” Laurent says. “After RCC, I felt much more confident.” He also formed lasting relationships with Professors Kris Baker and James Salvadon along with John Marra, retired Coordinator of Student Activities.

Extracurricular activities played a key role for Laurent, allowing him to meet other students and learn the culture. He joined the Fashion Club and Haitian Club, and, with the help of faculty member Brooke Evans, founded the Ballroom Dance Club, earning an Outstanding Student Service Award.

After graduating RCC with an AA in Liberal Arts, Laurent would go on to earn an AAS in Dental Hygiene from NYU College of Dentistry, a BS in Health Service Administration from City Tech and a Master’s in Advanced Management and Finance from Columbia University. He also serves as a mentor for the United Nations Youth Assembly and the Clinton Global Initiative University. Laurent lives in New York City, and you can still often find him on a ballroom dance floor.

 

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