History shapes the way doctor of audiology student Ashley Richards ’20 approaches her education. Her grandmother was born in Kentucky in the 1920s and lived through segregation and the civil rights movement. Richards explains that it was a time when educational options for her grandmother and her peers were very limited. “Hearing about her experiences is my driving force for being an audiologist,” said Richards.

Richards shares what led her to choose audiology. “I like the idea of giving them one of their senses back,” Richards said. She has already witnessed how improving a patient’s hearing can have a profound impact on their quality of life. During one of her clinical observations, the patient shared how depressed she had been before getting hearing aids. “She realized she could interact with people again,” Richards said. “Her hearing aids shifted her outlook on life.”

”I like the idea of giving them one of their senses back.”

She is still deciding which practice setting she would like to pursue. “The joy of working with older people is that you are able to give them back their hearing. It’s not perfect, but you give them back a piece of their life they haven’t been experiencing fully.” On the other end of the spectrum, she describes pediatric audiology as “challenging, but the payoff is fantastic.” She added, “They are able to give families, especially babies, that bridge to communication. It is a hands-on, tangible change, allowing them to be open to the world they live in and the people they interact with.”

Richards received the A. Stephenson/Parker Diversity in Audiology Endowed Scholarship. “I would just like to say thank you. I am grateful they invested in my education. I see it as a vote of confidence.” For Richards, receiving this scholarship adds an additional layer of motivation to maximize her time at Pacific.

By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
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