Illustrated portrait of Rubin Sorrell
Illustration: John Jay Cabuay

Neighbor to Neighbor

Even before Sorrell was a dentist, the lifelong Bayview-Hunters Point resident was advocating for healthier teeth in his community. In 2015, he created Dental Robin Hood to distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss to more than 300 local families and to barbershops to disperse. The organization also educates members of his San Francisco community about dental health. Now a nonprofit, Dental Robin Hood partners with the city’s public health department to improve oral health for kids and runs a program that has introduced about 50 local high school students to careers in dentistry. Additionally, Sorrell mentors dental students through UCSF’s First-Generation Mentorship Program. “I’m just doing what somebody did for me,” he says.

Lighting the Flame

As a child, Sorrell rarely saw a doctor who looked like him. He decided to become a dentist after some UCSF dentistry students spoke at a Black Student Union meeting when he was in 10th grade. “It lit the flame,” he says. Though his journey was circuitous – Sorrell spent a decade in the military and got a public health master’s en route to achieving his dream – he now works in the same Bayview-Hunters Point building where the neighborhood’s first Black physician, Arthur Coleman, MD, established a community clinic in the 1960s.

A Helping Hand

“Where I’m from, a lot of people didn’t make it to even be my age. I’m no different; I just got lucky. I’m hoping to be that person who helped somebody make it.”

– Kira Goldenberg for UCSF Magazine

Read the Winter 2024 Issue