Why are you interested in joining the national SAA Board of Directors?

While in high school, I was an active member in an all-girls leadership club named Girls Cabinet. During my junior year, the community of Beulah, Colorado, encountered the devastating impact of the Beulah Hill Wildfire. Girls Cabinet quickly initiated fundraising endeavors to aid those affected by this catastrophic event. For a dedicated week, club members visited classrooms during breakfast periods, educating peers on what had happened and appealing for donations from fellow students. Our collective efforts raised over $2,000, supporting first responders with meals and aiding victims who had lost their homes and possessions. Our commitment and dedication were recognized when, months later, Girls Cabinet was honored with the Youth Community Service Partner Award by the American Red Cross in 2017, acknowledged at the esteemed annual American Red Cross Awards Ceremony.

Furthermore, my hometown, Pueblo, Colorado, has an organization named POSADA, devoted to offering housing and supportive services, empowering homeless individuals and families within Pueblo County to integrate as self-sustaining members of the community. Over the past six holiday seasons, both my family and I actively engaged in initiatives such as the holiday food bank, food delivery, and gift-wrapping events organized by POSADA. Throughout my undergraduate career, I volunteered at Boulder Community Hospital as a newborn hearing screener. Typically, I dedicated one morning per week from the fall of 2019 through the spring of 2023, albeit with exceptions during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborating with another volunteer, we visited mom-and-baby rooms, initiating discussions on the significance of hearing screenings and their impact before conducting the screenings themselves.

My multifaceted involvement in various volunteer capacities was acknowledged by the Pueblo Hispanic Educational Foundation, which generously awarded me several scholarships. I received the Pueblo County Scholarship Fund in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021; the CDHE Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative in 2021; and the Colorado Proud Scholarship in 2021.

What unique traits or skills will you bring to a leadership position with the national SAA?

Advocacy has always been an important part of my scholastic career, which has led me to always be interested in leadership. I am grounded in the notion that we should never belong to an organization, association, or academy that we are not willing to represent on a grand scale.

Furthermore, I gravitate toward taking the lead in a group setting and want to continue to hone those skills and grow as a successful leader. I see this leadership position as an opportunity to make a meaningful impact and drive positive change for the future of audiology.

My primary goal is to continue to feel empowered, motivated, and supported as a future medical professional. Additionally, I have really connected with my cohort and the cohorts above and below me. I’m eager to continue learning and developing my leadership skills, so I am able to pay my efforts forward to my peers who have had such a positive impact on my path to becoming an audiologist.

If you could change one thing about the profession of audiology, what would it be?

Enhancing accessibility to hearing health care stands as the cornerstone of change in audiology. The current landscape often presents an insurmountable hurdle for many individuals. We witness firsthand the challenges our patients face in their pursuit of affordable hearing aids.

My hometown reported a 17.2 percent poverty rate in 2021 where every student in the county qualifies for free and reduced meals at school (Pueblo County, CO | Data USA, n.d.). I have been a part of the conversation about the effects of poverty and the affordability of health care since I was young, so I hold this issue near and dear to my heart.

Now, I have been educated on how hearing devices are essential for improving the quality of life, although they frequently remain financially out of reach for numerous individuals. The disparity between the necessity of these aids and their high price tags creates an inequity that undermines the very essence of healthcare accessibility. Implementing initiatives that advocate for subsidized or more affordable hearing aids can be a pivotal step toward inclusivity. Additionally, fostering awareness campaigns to destigmatize hearing loss and advocate for its recognition as a fundamental healthcare need is crucial.

I believe with my position on the national SAA Board of Directors, I will be uniquely positioned to continue serving the important cause. Ultimately, by prioritizing affordability and accessibility, the field of audiology can evolve into a domain that not only diagnoses and treats hearing differences but also ensures that those in need can access these vital services and devices without financial strain.