Diary of… An audiology student

Tanya Stathopoulos is in her second year of the doctorate in audiology program at the College of Allied Health and Nursing. She loves traveling, volleyball and artwork and she speaks fluent Greek. She is the Fundraising Chair at the NSU chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology.

I have grown to accept the fact that life tasks may be more difficult at times because my hearing will never be normal. Starting in elementary school, I began wearing hearing aids and I wanted to rip them out because they were so uncomfortable.

By middle school, I became accustomed to wearing them daily. I may have been able to hear my teacher in class, but I did not hear the children across the soccer field. In high school, I did not feel “cool” with my hearing aids and that sometimes led to my feeling socially isolated and embarrassed.

In college, I am thankful to be able to purchase hearing aids that are so comfortable that I forget I am wearing them and to be able to use technology that improves my quality of life. Although it was a rough road and children would often make fun of “the funny looking things in my ears,” I know I would not be where I am today without determination and without the fortune of having hearing aids.

I am currently in the audiology doctoral program. Beginning graduate school was exciting, but extremely nerve wracking. I did not know what to expect. Was I going to be able to understand everyone in big auditoriums? Was I going to be the only hearing-impaired student there? Was I going to be close enough to my cohorts and professors that I could ask them for something that I possibly had missed without feeling embarrassed? Was I going to understand different accents from people all around the world?

At orientation, I had to state three facts about myself and I decided to tell everyone right off the bat that I was hearing-impaired. To my great surprise, I was immediately more relaxed and I felt accepted. From that point on, I was assured it was the best decision I ever made. Now a class of 10, my cohorts and I have become like a family. Our professors have inspired us and are always there to support us.

The first year was a huge adjustment for all of us. We were there for one another, which helped us survive the tortuous and sleepless nights. During this year, I truly knew this was my passion. My most important lesson was to be realistic. I am fully aware that I will never have perfect hearing, but with hard work and determination, I have found ways to overcome the obstacles. My cohorts and I are here to learn how to be the best clinicians possible so we work in every way to best understand the material whether our grade is an “A+” or a “B.”

Now in my second year, I have begun my second semester of clinicals — the hands-on experience and the world of patients. I repeatedly find how much hearing loss negatively affects lives, like the elderly who cannot go out to noisy environments or understand others across the table and the children who can’t laugh at or watch cartoons with their friends because they miss the high-frequency sounds of television programs. Counseling patients about the newest technology and watching their lives improve immensely is an extremely rewarding experience. The audiology field combines my greatest strengths and passions — my motivated hard-working nature and my compassionate understanding and desire to help others in need. I hope to be a professional who enables many people to overcome the obstacles of being hearing-impaired and to be thrilled with their lives.

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