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Classmates help UC Blue Ash student see color for first time

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Savannah Allen has been color blind her entire life. It’s just something that she learned to cope with as a child. “I have a good memory; I would just remember what color things are, like the fact that the sky is blue.”

Allen has always wanted to be a health care provider and was excited when she was accepted into the dental hygiene program at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College. She is in her first year in the program and everything was going well until she began treating patients in the Dental Hygiene Clinic as part of her education.

“We had to use a disclosing solution that showed whether a patient had plaque on their teeth, depending on what color the solution turned,” says Allen. When her instructor realized Allen could not distinguish the different colors she raised concerns about whether a future in dental hygiene would be possible. Being able to properly view a patient’s teeth and gums to look for indications of decay or disease is an important part of the role as a hygienist.

When Allen was faced with the possibility of leaving the program, her classmates stepped up. Four of her fellow classmates in the dental hygiene program researched treatment options for people who are color blind and started a Go Fund Me page to raise money for special glasses that could help Allen see color.

“We are legit very close,” says Gabby White, one of Allen’s classmates who helped create the Go Fund Me page. “When we heard that she may not be able to continue, we said ‘we’re not having this.’”

The group launched the fundraising project and had support from all of the 40 or so students in the first-year class. “It was really great to see the students come together for Savannah. They did this all on their own,” says Luke Burroughs, an assistant professor of dental hygiene at UC Blue Ash, and the instructor for the first-year students.

The classmates surprised Allen with the glasses and watched her break down in tears as she saw colors for the first time in her life. “It literally took my breath away. I haven’t seen color in 21 years; it was overwhelming.”

Savannah’s story is an example of how close and supportive students can be at UC Blue Ash. This is especially true in the dental hygiene program where they attend the same classes and treat patients in the same clinic. Sometimes, that close bond can actually change a life.

“That they would do something like this for me is amazing,” says Allen. “The glasses have improved my quality of life 100 percent!”

Top Image: (L to R) Gabby White, Bella Perrin, Savannah Allen, Ashley Scherer and Judith Reyes.

Video shot by Michele Cartuyvelles.

About UC Blue Ash College

UC Blue Ash College is a regional college within the University of Cincinnati. It offers one of the best values in higher education with access to a nationally recognized UC education in more than 50 degree and certificate programs, as well as tuition that is about half of most colleges and universities. The college is located on a scenic 135-acre wooded campus in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio. To learn more, call 513-745-5600, visit us online, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.