“I’m very proud of my profession.”
Born in San Salvador, El Salvador Central America, Lorraine Celis spent her early childhood playing in her mother’s dental practice. Her mother’s treatment areas were in their home, so Lorraine and her sister would do scientific experiments and make “potions,” inspiring Lorraine to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a dentist herself. Lorraine says, “My mother was a very strong person, and I inherited that and her go-getter attitude.” As a child, Lorraine’s mother told her, “You’re going to be a winner. You’re going to do something great in life,” and Lorraine continues to fulfill these predictions.
Throughout her life, she has had to start over multiple times as she moved from Central America to San Francisco to East Chicago and eventually South Bend. All of these moves helped foster her mantra of “no matter where you go you rely on yourself, but it’s up to you and your personality to survive.”
As a teenager Lorraine shared her aspirations to be a dentist and was told by her high school guidance counselor, “You’re Hispanic. I don’t think you could ever go to dental school. You don’t have the grades.” Instead of being deterred, Lorraine worked harder to prove him wrong, eventually graduating from dental school.
As a dentist, Lorraine’s goal is “keeping the patient’s welfare as the focus.” For her, part of this means maintaining a private practice in an era quickly being overtaken by franchises that focus on the bottom line and jeopardize the well-being of patients by making decisions based on “finances, not good care.” Continuing her mother’s practice of giving back to the community, Lorraine has “always had a big heart for patients who can’t afford medicines or treatment” and provides many low cost or free services to patients. Lorraine describes her philosophy as: “All of us are put on this earth for a reason, and we all have different talents. Sometimes tapping into those talents and changing someone’s life can be so powerful that we need to reflect ourselves in those blessings.”
- President, North Central Dental Foundation
- Inductee, American College of Dentistry
- Inductee, International College of Dentistry
- Member, Pierre Fauchard Dental Society
- Member, American Dental Society
- Member Indiana Dental Association
- Member, North Central Dental Society
Information compiled from oral history collected by The Michiana Women Leaders Project
Lorraine was honored at Celebrating Michiana Women Leaders 2016.