Jonathan Suen, BS
AuD Graduate Student
Gallaudet University SAA Community Service Chair
In early October 2013, our SAA chapter partnered with the American Academy of Audiology Foundation to promote the audiology profession at the Fall Career Choice seminar, an event hosted by the non-profit Pursuing A Dream Corporation (PADC), in Washington, DC. The semiannual seminar was established in 2010 to provide career orientation and exploration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) occupations primarily among African-American students ages 10 to 18. According to PADC, African-Americans are purposely approached given their low presence among STEM degree programs and career fields. The market outlook of STEM occupations is promising, and thus all coming-of-age youths would benefit from exposure to and learning about the various opportunities found within the STEM label of professions. Audiology, a field that solidly reflects each one of the disciplines conveyed by the acronym, is especially worth garnering awareness!
Our enthusiasm as a student chapter for conducting the outreach stemmed from an all-too-familiar question: how did you become interested in audiology? It’s a common one that most, if not all, AuD students have likely been asked at some point or another. Even those of us currently in the pre-professional position ourselves have inquired the same of our fellow students during numerous introductions. If an audiologist was not directly involved during our own developmental years, then the mere idea must have somehow entered and molded our objectives and trajectories.
Whatever our motivations are, or wherever our influences originated that eventually led us all to audiology, we should take a brief moment to pause and consider: WE ourselves may now be the very first ones serendipitously privileged with an opportune moment of being the ones to introduce the exciting, expanding, and dynamic field unto an inquisitive seeker. These minds of potentially future clinicians, educators, researchers, and innovators, themselves may some day be asked the same- what prompted your interest in audiology? It will have been our efforts through intentional engagements, and our candid encouragements as current students, that may very well supply a reason in their responses. Then just like that- the momentum and growth of our profession continues.
Effective strategies for successful outreach, especially for teens and young adults, may vary according to circumstances. A seasoned networker, however, would recommend that any “pitch” should be brief enough to 1) grab attention, and then 2) leave a positive mark. In borrowing this acumen, an introduction to audiology may open by tugging on the heartstrings of interests in human healthcare and welfare, commitments to service and aid, curiosity of technological innovations and developments, pursuit of scientific frontiers still untapped, and finally the availability of multiple niches within the profession that leaves room for flexibility and options. Given the particular circumstance with PADC, our mindful mention of audiology coincidentally incorporating all aspects of STEM certainly offered a unique impression and consideration!
Audiology, for many, still remains a relatively obscure discipline and profession. Educated guesses may lend into presumptions that “it has something to do with sound.” We would perhaps equate that particular connection to the analogy of the alphabet as having something to do with forming words. Regardless of the understandably lack of dimension and depth to this simple understanding, they are both still true. Through our directive interactions and involvements, however, we can reveal the true prospects and implications of words composed into rhyme and structure to form poetry. The 10 seconds that we are limited with to deliver that successful pitch for our field could incidentally inspire the next generation of budding pre-professionals like ourselves. Student outreaches are opportunities that all SAA chapters, if prompted and available, should highly consider pursuing!
Gallaudet University SAA members stock their table with audiology materials at the 2013 Fall Career Choice Seminar in Washington, DC. [From left to right, Jonathan Suen, Claire Morgan, Kathryn Scholnick, and Larry Medwetsky, PhD, faculty advisor]