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Student Academy of Audiology, Swimming, and Missouri State: Interview with Ryan Bullock, SAA President

Student Academy of Audiology, Swimming, and Missouri State: Interview with Ryan Bullock, SAA President

July 29, 2010 Interviews

Douglas L. Beck, AuD, spoke with SAA President, Ryan Bullock, about how far the SAA has come in the last two years and where the organization is headed.

Academy: Hi, Ryan. Congratulations on your new position as president of the Student Audiology Association (SAA).

Bullock: Thanks, Dr. Beck. It’s a real honor for me and I’m looking forward to my term.

Academy: Very good. Before we get into SAA issues, I’d like to tell the readers a little about you. For example, you and I met a year or two ago and I recall that you’re quite an accomplished swimmer? And you swam against Michael Phelps?

Bullock: Well, I have done a lot of competitive swimming through school, and now that I graduated from my baccalaureate program, I’ve been competing occasionally in the U.S. Masters Swimming program, which is an organization that allows for competitive swimming on state and nationwide levels for all age groups after collegiate swimming. And yes, years ago when I was 14 years old, I did swim against Michael Phelps in Atlanta—and, as you might have guessed—he won!

Academy: But you’ve had some really spectacular successes, like in the distance events?

Bullock: Right, distance swimming has always been my forte. Last year, I was ranked first in the nation in the 800-meter freestyle with a time of 9 minutes and 36 seconds, and I was ranked second in the 1500-meter freestyle, with a time of 18 minutes and 8 seconds for my age group. I also set multiple Arkansas state records.

Academy: That’s fantastic, Ryan. And again for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with you, which AuD program are you attending?

Bullock: I’m attending Missouri State University at Springfield and I’m going into my third year in the AuD program there. That is also where I earned my undergraduate degree.

Academy: Excellent. And in your third year, you put together a research project, is that right?

Bullock: Yes, exactly. I put together a proposal that addresses noise levels in various night life industries such as bars, bars with DJs, bars with live bands and such, and the impact on hearing from these intense sound exposures.

Academy: Hmmmm. A grad student assembling a research project that involves hanging out in multiple bars for extended periods of time. Very interesting—and highly suspicious! Although I’m sure your dedication to all things scholastic will prevail.

Bullock: Of course.

Academy: Sounds very interesting. Okay, so let’s spend a few moments on the very young Student Academy of Audiology (SAA), where it is and where it’s going. I believe Virginia Best was the first president and you’re the second?

Bullock: Actually, Brian Vesely was the first president of the SAA at the time of the NAFDA/SAA merger, as he was NAFDA’s president at the time. Virginia Best was the first elected president, and I am the second.

I actually started on July 1, 2010, and it’s a one year term. I’ve been on the Board of Directors for the SAA for the last year and I’ve always thought that being president would be a great position to strive for. You know, during Virginia’s presidency, we’ve spent a great deal of time and effort getting the SAA set up, developing protocols, opening new chapters, and really hitting the ground running. She’s done a great job establishing the initial foundation. In some respects, I think of it as we’ve built the engine, now we need to take it out for a spin.

Academy: Good point. And so now that the SAA has a solid foundation and they have chapters in about 60 percent of the AuD programs and they’re still expanding, what are the next steps?

Bullock: Well, we have many things we’re working on. As you know, we’ve got a very important and beneficial relationship working between the SAA and the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing program. The SAA is also working to get all the AuD programs on board and open a chapter in each of the schools. The SAA should clearly be the premier student association for audiology students. Not only is it good for the students to have the professional access and continuity available, but it’s a two-way street, and the schools would benefit from their direct and local access to the SAA as well. Of course, on a more personal level, one of my goals is to make the word “audiology” more of a household word, and we’ll certainly explore ways in which the SAA might put together a program to help promote the profession directly to the public.

Academy: What’s your perspective on the Academy?

Bullock: Well, it seems to me that without the Academy, there would be no SAA. The Academy has been very helpful and supportive and they’ve bent over backward to help us get this going. The Academy has provided time, leadership, and insight, which has allowed us to do as well as we’ve done in a very brief time.

Academy: Very gracious observation. And I agree. I know it hasn’t always been easy, particularly in the early days for either SAA or Academy, but it seems like a project well worth the effort and I think the symbiotic benefits will just continue to grow.

Bullock: Absolutely. We’ve got 46 chapters in some 73 schools and some additional programs in process right now, and so we’ve had multiple and early successes and we’re looking forward to opening more chapters and offering new and additional benefits to help open up SAA chapters.

Academy: And for new chapters and others to get in touch with SAA, the readers can go to the Web site for information? Bullock: Yes, the Web site is accessed at and all the SAA chapter information is there, as well as my e-mail address and SAA Vice President, Allison Hearn’s, too.

Academy: Thanks, Ryan. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. I wish you all the best in your upcoming swimming meets and your SAA presidency!

Bullock: Thanks, Dr. Beck.

Ryan Bullock is the president (2010-2011) of the Student Academy of Audiology. He is a third-year AuD student at Missouri State in Springfield.

Douglas L. Beck, AuD, Board Certified in Audiology is the Web content editor for the American Academy of Audiology.


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