Cindy was born and raised in Pekin, Illinois (U.S.) on a pig, cattle, and grain farm, the sixth of seven children. She started her first job at 12 years old detasseling corn every Summer while showing pigs at different county fairs throughout Illinois until she was 18 years old. She ran track and cross country in high school, and her favourite pastimes were drawing and music.
The field of Biological Sciences always fascinated Cindy and she easily excelled in these advanced courses in high school. Cindy started studying to be a high school biology teacher at Illinois State University in the Fall of 1990. Cindy decided to switch her major after student teaching biology at a local high school, and after taking two semesters of gross human anatomy, which she had taken with pre-med; pre-dental; and pre-vet students. She found these classes fascinating and wanted to do more with her degree than teaching had to offer, so she considered applying to med school. Cindy spoke with her family dentist, who had become a great mentor to her. He suggested dentistry. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 1995, she applied to Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine and was admitted in the Fall of 1996. Opening the acceptance letter to dental school was one of the proudest moments of her life.
Cindy graduated from SIU-SDM in 2000 and moved to a small town in Southern Illinois to practise for four years before returning home to in Pekin, Illinois. There, she became a 50% partner of Schwartz and Miller Family Dental for over 10 years. During her 14 years of private practice in the States, Cindy attended many advanced dental education courses focusing on cosmetic dentistry and advanced restorative cases, which are the fields of dentistry she finds most gratifying.
Cindy met her husband, Dr. Kevin Miller, in 2005 while they were both taking golf lessons from her golf pro uncle who was a patient of Kevin’s. Cindy’s uncle introduced her to Kevin and they soon hit it off, marrying in late 2006. They soon had two little girls, Caroline and Julia.
In 2012, Cindy and Kevin visited New Zealand and fell in love with it after experiencing the amazing beauty and culture of its land and people. Reeling from the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting and other episodes of gun related violence in the U.S., and feeling disenchanted with the U.S. political system, Cindy and Kevin decided New Zealand would be a safer environment for their children to grow up in. So, in 2013, they committed to making the move to New Zealand.
Cindy and her family arrived in Whangarei in June of 2014, where Cindy started working at Kowhai Dental after hearing great things about Dr. Jeff Joy, a fellow expat from California who had extensive U.S. training in Prosthetic dentistry and full mouth rehabilitation. Jeff’s vision for Kowhai Dental was high-quality, affordable dentistry in a comfortable state-of-the-art dental practice that everyone could have access to, no matter what their financial situation. “Access to care” was a huge focus of Cindy’s former practice in Pekin, where her and her partner, Dr. Timm Schwartz headed the “Give Kids A Smile” project through the local grade schools of Pekin, Illinois. Jeff’s vision and practice philosophy aligned perfectly with Cindy’s own ideals and Cindy soon found working at Kowhai Dental to be a very professionally and spiritually fulfilling career move.
Not long after practising at Kowhai Dental, Cindy found many patients extremely fearful of dentistry due to traumatic experiences as a child with Dental Nurses. It was her goal from then on to make sure patients had the best, most comfortable and informative experience at Kowhai Dental. Cindy continues to focus her training on cosmetic and complex restorative dental procedures, and as Kowhai Dental has expanded tremendously since she arrived 5 years ago, it has allowed her to utilise and incorporate more state-of-the-art dental equipment into her treatment planning and daily practice, such as intra oral cameras, panoramic radiographs and CBCT for root canal treatment, implant and orthodontic planning. Working in a larger group dental practice with 4 other dentists allows Cindy to bounce ideas off fellow colleagues when encountering the more challenging cases, which ultimately leads to better treatment for the patient.
Cindy spends her free time playing golf with her husband, running and training for various half and full marathons throughout New Zealand and spending time with her daughters.