Ohio State Dental Journal

A Lasting Impression

Native Ohioan and part-time College of Dentistry faculty member Michael Masonbrink, ‘71 DDS discusses why he and his wife, Kaylin—also a native Ohioan and Ohio State graduate—made the decision to establish two legacy scholarships to support future generations of dental students. 

Q: What were your early experiences at Ohio State?

A: My role models were my parents. I became a passionate Buckeye in the late 1960’s through my father’s allegiance to his undergraduate alma mater, Ohio State. I decided my junior year of high school to pursue dentistry. This career would allow me to use my hand skills in a professional environment.

“The cost of a dental education can impact a student’s future…I am concerned that it will adversely affect even the choice to pursue a dental career.”

My time at Ohio State was during a period of social and political unrest on campus and all over the country over the Vietnam War...but, in spite of this difficult time, I felt even then that someday I wanted to return to Ohio State.

In my junior year, I was fixed up on a blind date with the perfect girl who was a May Queen candidate. Her name was Kaylin Rogers. Kaylin and I married and, following my discharge from the U.S. Air Force in 1973, we returned to Ohio and established a dental practice in Canton. 

Teaching is in my DNA, with parents and my wife earning degrees in education. Returning to my alma mater was a life-long goal. It allows me to give back to my profession and share my experiences of 39 years in private practice.  

Q: How are things different now than they were when you were a student?

A: The culture of dental education is much more student friendly today. I love the camaraderie between the students, as well as the faculty/student relationship. I value the personal relationships with students; learning how they decided on dentistry as a career, their family background, their community, and their future goals. Sharing advice, dental perspectives, encouragement, praise, admonition, and above all support is a view shared by all our faculty. I look back fondly on the instructors who influenced my career in a positive fashion and I hope that I can have that same impact on today’s students.

The most glaring difference between my education and today's is the huge impact of student debt. The cost of a professional degree has compounded. When I was in school I could cover the costs by working full time in the summer and part time during the school year, but the undergraduate and dental school debt of this generation is stifling. 

“(We chose to) extend our helping hand to future generations and reward students for hard work.”

Q: What made you and Kaylin consider establishing legacy scholarships?

A: Our oldest son, Monte, graduated from the Ohio State College of Dentistry in 2004 and completed his specialty training in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in 2006—also at Ohio State. Our second son, Brent, received a college degree in computer systems analysis and our daughter, Shauna-Lyn, received her B.A. and M.S. in social work. My wife, Kaylin, returned to school and received a second degree in dental hygiene in 1998. Thus, we know the value and the cost of a college education.

Even with student grants, scholarships, and loans, the cost of a dental education today can impact a student’s future—either where they practice, whether to seek immediate employment or continue in a specialty or GPR program, partnerships, solo practice, and teaching. I am concerned that it will adversely affect even the choice to pursue a dental career. 

Dentistry is a challenging career, sometimes frustrating and stressful, but also well respected and rewarding. Kaylin and I have decided to create scholarship funds to benefit today’s dental students to help with their greatest need, financial support. We see the opportunity to gift legacy scholarships as the most beneficial way to give back to our profession and alma mater. This choice will extend our helping hand to future generations and reward students for hard work. We also hope that by example our gift will encourage all dental professionals, as well as this current generation, to “pay ahead” and reinvest in our dental students. This choice was more abundantly clear after returning to Ohio State to teach. To sum it up, boxing great Mohammed Ali was quoted as saying “If a man’s perspective on life is the same at 50 as it was at 20, then he has lost the value of 30 years of living.” 

To learn more about how to contribute to or create a legacy scholarship, please contact Ted Backus, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Affairs at backus.30@osu.edu or
614-292-9307.