When she was a teenager, Sabrina Michael went to orthodontist Joseph Geenty for braces.
The experience had such a positive impact on the self-esteem and confidence of the then St Mary’s College student she decided she wanted to be an orthodontist herself.
‘‘My teeth were pretty interesting beforehand and I was really grateful,’’ she said.
‘‘That is what got me thinking about dentistry and orthodontics in particular. I was so happy, I thought if I could do this for someone else it would make me even more happy.’’
That childhood dream was realised on Monday when the former Balgownie girl became Smile Team Orthodontics’ first female orthodontist, working beside Dr Geenty.
The 28-year-old believes she is the first woman to work as a specialist orthodontist in the Illawarra.
It is exactly a decade since Dr Michael left Wollongong to study to become a dentist in Adelaide.
After graduating from the University of Adelaide with a bachelor of dental surgery she undertook additional post-graduate training and graduated with a bachelor of science in dentistry with first class honours in 2008.
She then worked for Queensland Health in Rockhampton as a dentist and did some part-time work with an orthodontist.
She was also an honorary lecturer at the University of Queensland where she supervised final-year dental students on regional placement.
In 2010 she started post-graduate training in orthodontics at the University of Sydney to become a Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (Orthodontics).
This week she is familiarising herself with Smile Team Orthodontics’ Wollongong, Shellharbour and Bowral practices where she will work.
She said she counted herself very fortunate to work with colleagues Dr Geenty, Dr Henry Ho, Dr Steve Brown, Dr Guy Farland and consultant Professor M Ali Darendeliler who were all so highly regarded in the industry.
‘‘This practice is pretty fantastic,’’ Dr Michael said.
Dr Michael’s father, Colin Woodroffe, is a professor in geosciences at the University of Wollongong, and her mother, Salwa Woodroffe, has worked as an academic in microbiology.
They still live at Balgownie and her sister Clarissa Woodroffe is a pharmacist at Westmead Children’s Hospital.