November 17, 2021

Starting this semester, the Shawnee State University Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program created a partnership with the university’s Golden Bear program to help students gain a number of skills for their future career. At the beginning of the semester, students in the program were paired with different Golden Bears to work on building relationships with someone not in their immediate circle. MOT Professor Ann Marie Allen is overseeing this project and is excited for the benefits it will provide for students in the program.

picture of group on hike
Meeting together weekly, a group of MOT students and Golden Bears went hiking in the West Portsmouth, OH area.

“A relationship with a client is different than other relationships in your life,” said Allen. “It is intentional and you have a purpose to help the person succeed in some way. It teaches students to build a relationship with someone not in their generation, to plan activities, and to engage in different ways. So by doing this assignment, they are developing skills to use when they become an Occupational Therapist.”

MOT students and their Golden Bears meet weekly and plan activities together. Some pairs have went hiking, eaten lunch in the Bears Den Dining Hall on campus, and learned crafts together. Abigail Blankenship is a first-year student in the MOT program and has benefitted from getting to know her Golden Bear.

“I’m getting to build a connection that will last even after graduation with my Golden Bear,” said Blankenship. “Through her, I have met people who are interested in hiring me after graduation. She definitely wants to see me succeed. We enjoy having lunch in the cafeteria and walking her dogs by the floodwall murals. My Golden Bear knows a lot about Portsmouth so she has also taught me about the area’s history.”

The Golden Bear program has been a part of SSU for over 30 years. Strong supporters of both academic and athletic programs on campus, the program offers adults in Scioto County over the age of 60 free access to all home athletic events, use of the athletic center, and specific Golden Bear weekly activities. This new partnership with the MOT program has given multiple Golden Bears the opportunity to directly impact SSU students’ academic careers.

“This partnership also gives Golden Bears the chance to increase their social circle,” said Allen. “Many Golden Bears are retired or at different stages in their lives and they want to make new connections, especially with students. Having their population on campus will help students to network and build bridges to possible work opportunities.”

To learn more about Shawnee State University’s Master of Occupational Therapy program, visit To find information on the Golden Bear program, visit