"In my time here, I have not only been prepared academically for my future, but have been provided numerous opportunities to work on my communication, leadership and personal skills that are an integral part of building a successful future. I could not ask for a better college experience."
FSU student gives back to the community by making smiles a little brighter
Major: Exercise Science
Graduation: Spring 2018
Florida State University student Celia Bonett lights up a room with her smile — a fitting characteristic for the exercise science major who is on the career path to dentistry.
Bonett, now a junior, said that FSU was love-at-first-sight after her first campus tour.
"I felt as though I was at home," Bonett said. "Everyone was incredibly welcoming and informative. I saw all the great opportunities available on campus for service, leadership and academic growth and knew this was the place for me."
The Orlando native said she knew she wanted to be an exercise science major from the get-go, and it was a "no brainer" on her road to dental school.
"My brain is completely science-oriented," Bonett said. "I love everything about this field. Physical fitness, specifically through resistance training, is one of my biggest passions. I find this major most applicable to everyday life."
Bonett, who's been on the Dean's list every semester, isn't just dedicated to her studies. She also does numerous amounts of volunteer work giving back to the local and national communities.
She began volunteering her sophomore year through the Center for Leadership and Social Change and became a mentor at Astoria Park Elementary where she would visit and help tutor elementary school students.
In addition to volunteering with Covenant Care and the Pre-Dental Society, Bonett is also the volunteer chair for FSU Saving Smiles, an organization that goes on international dental mission trips to help those of lower socioeconomic status get the dental care they direly need. Last spring break she traveled to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, where she provided door-to-door oral health screenings and distributed dental health kits.
"This was the most eye-opening experience I have had and where I found my passion for service," Bonett said. "I met people with broken and missing teeth, severe tartar buildup or no teeth at all. It was an incredibly humbling experience and really showed me all that we take for granted every day. I recommend that everyone go on an international service trip if possible; it really is life changing."
Once returning to the states Bonett realized that there were still many people who weren't receiving proper dental care right here in Tallahassee. So, through FSU Saving Smiles, she organized an event that provided essential dental care donations to veterans, homeless shelters and local elementary schools.
She also is a Freshman Group Leader, helping incoming FSU freshmen make their transition into college easier and mentoring them to become strong academics, leaders and citizens of the community.
"I truly believe service is important for everyone to get involved in while in college," Bonett said. "By bettering individual lives, the community grows and becomes stronger and brighter. Volunteering really aids in personal growth, strengthening compassion, patience and communication skills. With so many resources available on and off campus, there is a volunteer opportunity for everyone."
Karen Laughlin, dean of Undergraduate Studies said selecting Bonett as a FIG leader was a great decision and that she's been an inspiration to her students.
"Celia's energy and passion for working in the health care field are contagious," Dean Laughlin said. "She puts her passion into action through in-depth research and focused volunteer work."
Dental health isn't the only medical field that Bonett is passionate about. She also has won an IDEA Grant for her research creating an insulin pump leakage detecting mechanism in order to improve life for those with Type 1 Diabetes.
"The research topic meant so much to me because I have multiple family members with diabetes and I see the effects disease management has on their lives," Bonett said. "The fact that I am working toward a method that can simplify someone's life and medication regimen is just amazing."
The IDEA grant funded her research $6,000 and gave her the opportunity to present her work at the 2016 President's Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence. The insulin pump has been patented through FSU's Office of Commercialization.
"I know of few other undergraduates whose research has led to the development of a patented device," Dean Laughlin said. "The insulin pump that she and her research partner developed will improve so many lives."
After graduation, Bonett plans to join the military and attend dental school. She also wants to continue providing pro bono dental services to those in need.
"I believe everyone should have access to professional dental services so they can maintain good oral health," Bonett said. "It is my dream to serve locally and internationally to those who direly need dental care but cannot afford it. I am striving to get to the point in my life where I will be able to create, fund and host a monthly free service day and help as many people as I can."
Bonett says that FSU was an integral factor in helping her work toward achieving her life goals.
"In my time here, I have not only been prepared academically for my future in dental school, but I have been provided numerous opportunities to work on my communication, leadership and personal skills that are an integral part of building a successful future," Bonett said. "I could not ask for a better college experience."
By Susan Hansen, University Communications
Produced by the offices of Information Technology Services, the Provost, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Studies and University Communications.