by Nina Riccio MA’09
Spend an hour with Cindy Bartolone ’82, DDS, and it’s clear this is a woman who crams just about as much as she can into every day.
She’s got a large and thriving dental practice in Fairfield, two teenagers, and a husband, John Convertito ’84 (who also boasts a Fairfield degree), plus a roster of extracurricular activities that have taken her from Bridgeport and out to Ohio. She’s an avid fan of wakeboarding (“It’s like waterskiing with a snowboard,” she explained), and last year, she jumped out of an airplane.
“You know, you’ve got to cross one thing off your bucket list every year,” she said with a shrug.
When she talks about her work, Bartolone’s love of her profession comes through loud and clear. After graduating from dental school at the University of Connecticut, she spent a few years working in several large practices before opening her own office. “I wanted to practice ideal dentistry. I know my patients like a family; I know their kids,” she explained.
“They’re not just teeth to me!” she added with a laugh.
Back in her high school days, a leaning toward math and science put her on track to study medicine, and Bartolone chose Fairfield largely because of the University’s success in getting graduates into medical programs. She doesn’t have an ounce of regret.
“A lot of who I am and how I look at the world was shaped by the breadth of classes I took at Fairfield,” she said. “A liberal arts education with a core is a life-changer. As a biology major, I wouldn’t ordinarily have taken many of the courses I did, like art history with Dr. Philip Eliasoph. I just loved his class. And another on marriage and family therapy taught by a Jesuit who, I think, wasn’t used to having women in the class. We argued with him about birth control and other issues all the time!”
A few years ago, Bartolone took up fencing when her son became involved with the high school team. “Together with a few other parents, we formed a fencing club here in Fairfield to give the kids a place to practice, so I thought I’d give it a try. I did and I loved it,” she said. “What can I say? I’ve always been a jock.” And though she claims she’s not nearly the same level as many of the women who have been fencing for years, she did make it to nationals in Ohio recently.
Active in the community, Bartolone has participated in fundraising efforts for Bridgeport’s Cardinal Shehan Center (now run by former Fairfield basketball coach Terry O’Connor) and in the mentoring programs at Fairfield Ludlowe High School and Fairfield University. “We often volunteer together,” she said, referring to her office staff of 16, most of whom have been with her for many years. Over the past couple of years, they’ve fielded a dodgeball team as well a spelling bee team that pitted them against lineups from much larger local companies such as GE, Aquarion, and People’s Bank.
“And, I must say, we had a pretty respectable showing,” she noted.
The commitment to mentoring students is indeed a group effort. Fairfield students interested in dentistry cycle through Bartolone’s office, where they work with the staff at the front desk, learn to sterilize equipment, and observe procedures. Bartolone coaches students on the interview process and talks to them about different specialties and current issues in the field. She works with her colleagues across town arranging for interns to observe a periodontist and orthodontist, and she regularly speaks with University students in the pre-health professions program on becoming a dentist.
“I loved Fairfield and would do anything to help out,” said Bartolone.