From Fans to Philanthropy
Inspired by actor and Smile Ambassador Michael Trevino, rising juniors Chloe Wise and Sriya Krishnan of New York reflect on their path to becoming Operation Smile volunteers.
By Nick Ciuffreda, Student Programs Media Intern
Turns out that combining a math class with “The Vampire Diaries” adds up to getting involved with Operation Smile.
This was the case for rising juniors Sriya Krishnan and Chloe Wise. Bonding over their favorite show during their freshman math class was a major factor in starting their Operation Smile club at Rye Country Day School in New York.
Like any teenager hooked on a TV show, Sriya and Chloe hopped on social media and followed their favorite actor from the “The Vampire Diaries,” Michael Trevino. They didn’t know about Operation Smile at the time — they were just fans keeping up with a star of the show.
Shortly before their sophomore year started, Chloe saw an Instagram post from Trevino about a charity FaceTime he was doing for Operation Smile.
A Smile Ambassador for the organization, Michael Trevino has been change-making champion for Operation Smile and rallied countless fans to support our cause. He’s even served as the emcee for the concerts at three International Student Leadership Conferences: 2016 in San Diego, 2018 in Seattle, and 2019 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“Before I even knew about starting a club or anything about Operation Smile, I was like I want to meet Michael Trevino, I should totally do this FaceTime,” Chloe said.
As she recalls, some of what they talked about was random — like her love for the Jonas Brothers, writing, and photography — but in the end, Trevino talked about what Operation Smile is, how he was involved, and ways that students like herself could get involved.
Around this same time, Sriya — who’s interested in studying medicine — was looking into different organizations she could get involved with that “provided resources for those who need it the most.” She wanted to bring this organization into their school by starting a club.
That’s when she found Operation Smile and approached Chloe about being a co-president with her.
“This is like a type of organization that you don’t want to just stop working with because you know the impact that it makes,” Sriya said. “I just want to continue wherever I go, just always keep being a part of this organization.”
When Syria told Chloe about her idea to start an Operation Smile club, Chloe quickly remembered the FaceTime she did with Trevino.
“It was like one of those things where it was like we’re both a fan of him, but we’re both very passionate about wanting to help and give back and get more involved with Operation Smile that it was like this is perfect, we should do it,” Chloe said.
Soon after, their club was formed and started up in December. They had a very successful start: They raised $450 through pizza fundraisers, and they rallied a bunch of dedicated club members.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first year of the club was cut short, but this hasn’t stopped the girls in planning for next year. In terms of their goals going forward, they are not only looking for an increase in attendance but are also looking to double or triple their fundraising amount from this first year.
With a strong start behind them, the girls say they’re definitely ready to make a big impact over the next couple years. They’re very thankful for Trevino introducing them to Operation Smile.
“I just want to say thank you (to Michael Trevino) just because teenagers like us, this is how we learn about different organizations and events going on through people on social media,” Sriya said. “When he posts about it, it’s just spreading the message to everyone and now it’s like everyone knows about Operation Smile. He makes a really great impact, so I just want to say thank you for that — and, yeah, I love your character on the show.”
“I honestly just want to say thank you because to be honest I joined the FaceTime knowing absolutely nothing about Operation Smile and basically just wanted to meet someone from a TV show I watched,” Chloe said. “But I think when I left the call, I felt differently because I learned about Operation Smile and it was just inspiring honestly — I don’t even have the words to put it in. He was just so nice and inspiring and made me want to get involved with Operation Smile, so honestly I just want to say thank you.”
Nick is studying business at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He’s been involved with Operation Smile since he was in the Lawrence High School club in New Jersey and attended a medical mission in the Dominican Republic in 2019.