A Year in Review
For the first time since the existence of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA), none of our 2020-2021 SAA Board of Directors (BoD) members met each other in person. In previous years, the SAA BoD would meet in person twice: at the AAA Annual Conference and a few months later in Reston, Virginia, at the Academy Headquarters for a weekend long onboarding retreat/meeting. Shortly after the AAA Annual Conference 2020 was canceled, Riley DeBacker (outgoing President), Lily Rollins (incoming President-Elect), and I (incoming President) were a little panicked. How do we onboard this group of student leaders when we’ve never formally met in person? In person events and meetings allow for a more genuine connection resulting in closer relationships. Similar to the rest of the world, the SAA made a drastic shift, and we held the first ever “Virtual Reston Retreat.”
It was nerve-wracking, to say the least, and I was constantly worried: does the BoD feel connected? Do they know they have my, the staff, and all the mentors’ support? Are they going through personal turmoil and trying to navigate this new landscape of life? As I reflect on the last year, I realize my worries were relatively unfounded. Yes, of course, each BoD member was trying to figure out this new regime and a new way of life, but we all rocked it in terms of commitment and dedication to the SAA. Every meeting was met with enthusiasm and excitement. Every event quickly turned virtual. Every new and existing resource was updated to include COVID-19 considerations. It was like we hardly missed a beat and kept trekking along no matter the frustrations and unexpected events that came our way. The SAA’s first completely virtual year was overwhelmingly a success.
As we continue into another year, we can use the lessons learned from the outgoing BoD to propel us forward. Many of the changes in activities we made due to COVID have been praised by both SAA members and volunteers. These projects have been integrated into many of the incoming BoD’s goals for the year and have become legacy initiatives. This past year has taught us to be flexible and adaptable since the whole world can change in an instant. All of our BoD members embody these characteristics and I look forward to seeing what they accomplish this year.
The SAA’s achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the gracious and never-ending support of the Academy staff and the SAA Advisory Committee. Thank you to each of you for encouraging us when we needed it and cheering us up when things didn’t go exactly as planned. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Stephanie Tittle, AuD, Past SAA President
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