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50 Years Later: Mother and Daughter have a Unique Connection to UC Blue Ash

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Fifty years after Martha Ossenbeck-Smith was part of the original class at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, her daughter is following in her footsteps.

As UC Blue Ash College celebrated its 50th Anniversary throughout the 2017-18 academic year, Ossenbeck-Smith and her daughter, Shannon Chalmers, also marked a notable achievement. Chalmers is a student in the dental hygiene program at UC Blue Ash, attending the same college her mother helped open in the fall of 1967, when it was the first regional college created by the University of Cincinnati and one of the first regional colleges in Ohio.

Ossenbeck-Smith grew up in Dillonvale and graduated from Mount Notre Dame High School in 1967. She attended the new college to pursue a liberal arts education that prepared her for a bachelor’s degree from UC in political science and international affairs.

She says she enjoyed her experience at what was then Raymond Walters College (the name changed to UC Blue Ash College in 2011) and is proud that she was part of the first graduating class from the college in 1969. “I can still remember the graduation ceremony in Nippert Stadium. I think we only had about 200 in our graduating class.”

Shannon Chalmers and her mother in the dental hygiene lab

Shannon provides an oral health check-up on her mother in the Dental Hygiene Clinic. Martha was the first patient she treated as a dental hygiene student.

Today, Ossenbeck-Smith lives in Tennessee with her husband and recently retired after a career of working in management, first in retail and then for a charity organization.

Chalmers grew up in Blue Ash, before her parents moved to Tennessee, and was familiar with the college, but it wasn’t part of her plans after high school. Following graduation she spent time abroad and lived in England, where she met her husband. In 2014, they made the big move to the U.S. and Chalmers returned to Blue Ash with her husband and their two children. It wasn’t long after that when she began focusing on a new career and learned about the dental hygiene program at UC Blue Ash.

“I went to an information session hosted by the dental hygiene program because I had ambition to start my own career after being a stay-at-home mother for 11 years,” said Chalmers. “I came away really interested in dental hygiene as a potential career. It’s a prestigious program, very challenging.”

Chalmers was accepted into the dental hygiene program this past fall. A few months later she joined her mother and father as they attended the 50th Anniversary Gala at UC Blue Ash. That’s when the significance of their 50-year connection sunk in.

“I hadn’t really thought about it until attending the Gala. It became more significant having my mom there and seeing her being recognized as part of the first graduating class,” said Chalmers. “It really hit me that this is historical.”

As a first-year student she learned the basics about dental hygiene and treating patients. In February, after a full semester of intense coursework, the new dental hygiene students treated their first patients, providing an oral health check-up and teeth cleaning.

Most of the students invite family or friends to serve as the patient for this first-time experience. For Shannon Chalmers, it made perfect sense to invite her mom back to the campus where she started her journey 50 years ago.

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