The movie Hidden Figures tells the untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson who were brilliant African-American women working at NASA, serving as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. These three women inspired the nation because they crossed all gender and race lines, moving generations to dream big and to never give up on their goals.
This movie inspired our Office of Diversity and Inclusion and had us thinking about all the other “hidden figures” that exist in and around our own community, as well. In honor of Black History Month, throughout February, we will feature our own “hidden figures” here at Detroit Mercy Dental:
Sheroyn Jones, R.D.H., M.H.S.A.
Implant and Periodontal Recall Coordinator
What is your role at the school?
My role is kind of divided in three different components. First of all, I am the Implant Coordinator. In that aspect I work with the dental students and residents to oversee and review all the implant surgeries before they get approved. I manage our grant that we have with Zimmer Dental and I am involved in the implant competencies for the dental students. I also supervise the staff hygienists’ in faculty practice and the hygiene recall. Lastly, I clinically see patients in Hygiene on Wednesdays.
What kinds of activities are you involved in outside of work?
I am very active in my church so I am involved in a lot of community activities within the church. I teach youth church with children who are in elementary school two to three times a month, which is awesome. You learn from kids, it’s a really fun, reciprocal way of spreading God’s love. Also, Lynne Sikawa, Director of Clinic Operations, Margo Kempinski, Dental Hygienist, (who are both employees here), and Cornelius Sikawa and I started a non-profit organization called You and I Alliance about four years ago. Through this non-profit organization, we have sent almost a half- million dollars’ worth of dental and medical supplies to Kenya. We have been doing different fundraisers to raise money and awareness. We have gotten a great deal of support from Detroit Mercy Dental. We’ve done goat roasts and after work affairs to help fund-raise. I also like to mentor young men and women as well. I tutor in a variety of different subjects. I am getting ready to speak at a health fair next month where I will talk about the correlations between periodontal disease and diabetes.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of being able to develop some awesome relationships with people. I am blessed in so many realms. I am very close to my family and I have wonderful relationships with my nieces and nephews. That is paramount for me. I have an almost twenty-year-old nephew and he called me a couple of weekends ago and was like, “Auntie, let’s have a Star Wars marathon.” You know what? When your hardworking, college-going nephew wants to spend a day with you watching movies and eating popcorn, life is good! Instead of going out with his friends or taking someone out on a date, he wants to spend a day with me? That’s special. Also, I don’t use the word friend lightly, but I have some of the most amazing friends. They are true friends that are there for me no matter what. So I’m going to say that developing my relationships with other human beings is my biggest accomplishment.
What drives you in your work both inside and outside of the School?
Wanting to be the best person I can be; I think that’s what drives me the most. My parents were people who always instilled in me and my siblings the importance of community and giving back. They taught us that success is built upon you waking up every day trying to do the best that you can, and bringing somebody along with you. That’s what drives me. I want to always try to do my best. Second of all, I am a woman of color and I have had these roads paved by some phenomenal people who drive me to get out there and do something.
Who has influenced you the most?
My parents would be the ones who influenced me the most. They were always doing something. My father was a Boy Scout Scoutmaster for almost thirty years. He would mentor young men who did not have male role models in their lives. He would have meetings at our house and my mom would always help my dad. When you’re a kid you don’t understand that people’s life experiences are different because you only know yours. For me, I had both parents and a loving family so I didn’t initially understand why some of the kids would be over playing with my toys or getting to spend time with my dad. Not understanding that were so many kids with life experiences that are different than mine. My mom and dad were always taking in people to live with us or helping to mentor other kids. As I got older, that’s when I saw my situation was different. I had been surrounded by support, love, friendship, great siblings. My parents set a high bar. All four of my siblings are educated, but they taught us that just because you have institutionalized education doesn’t make you smarter or better than anybody else.
How and where do you find inspiration?
I find it in my personal belief in God. I also find it in my family, friends, self-reflection, and poetry. I find it in the trials of life. I also find it in both of my parents.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in their community but doesn’t quite know how?
Start off with whatever their passion is. I would also suggest that anyone who has the opportunity to participate in the Alternative Spring Break (through the University) do so. Also, random acts of kindness are ways to get involved, you don’t have to be involved in an organization to perform acts of kindness. We don’t have to do grandiose things that the whole world will know that we did. Sometimes it’s the smallest acts of kindness that make the biggest differences.