Welcome to the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Pathways to Audiology Interview Series! While many audiologists come from a Communication Science Disorders (CSD) background, others have taken different pathways to the field. In this series, the SAA will interview both audiologists and AuD students who have or are taking non-traditional routes into the profession of audiology.
Our next interview of the 2021-2022 term is with Haley Matthias, a second-year audiology student at Ball State University.
Q: Could you give us a quick description of yourself, what your undergraduate degree was, and where are you currently getting your AuD?
A: My name is Haley Matthias and I am currently a second-year Doctorate of Audiology student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Before coming to Ball State, I received my Bachelor of Science in epidemiology and minor in business from the Kelley School of Business from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Q: What made you switch to audiology from your previous track?
A: Growing up, I swore I wanted to be a veterinarian, but honestly I only really liked dogs, so that was out. I knew that I wanted to help people and loved science (cliché, I know), but I also found a deep love for spreadsheets and graphs – so naturally I fell into research. I made the switch from epidemiology to audiology after realizing that I wanted to have a more clinically focused career that would also allow me to complete research.
I spent my undergraduate research studying opioid related deaths and statistics involving opioid abuse. While I am still very interested in opioid medication research (which is cool in the sense of ototoxicity in audiology), I have to be honest that the field was just really sad and I had a hard time separating research from my personal life. The nice thing about my degree in epidemiology, though, is that you can really use it for any type of research – the options are endless.
When thinking about the next research opportunity I could take, I suddenly fell into the world of audiology after talking to my friend, the now Hannah Reeg, AuD. Audiology seemed to have everything I was looking for. I could have the patient interaction I was wanting, the research opportunities are endless, and the science behind how we can help those with hearing loss is ever-changing, making it easy to always be learning (which is what I love most and if you ask my parents they describe me as a “professional student”).
I also feel like audiology was just meant to be (again, cliché to say) because of how much the field of audiology has influenced so many important people in my life. One of my tennis coaches in high school used hearing aids when it became difficult to coach our team and communicate with his family, while my other coach played professionally on the Deaf Tour (he was #2 in the USA and #3 in the world, just to brag about him for a second). Now, two of my grandparents use hearing aids which have drastically improved their communication, and another one of my grandfathers received a cochlear implant since I started my program!
Q: In what ways do you believe your non-CSD degree has helped you thus far in your program?
A: If you ask my classmates, they would say my ability to make a beautiful Excel spreadsheet with all the fancy autofill options is probably the best thing I took away from my non-CSD degree. But on a serious note, I think my background in research has really helped me in my program so far. From spending so much time thinking of all the “what if we looked at this….”, I think that I have been able to problem solve with patients in the clinic and troubleshoot hearing aids in a different way than others because my background is to mess with independent and dependent variables.
Q: What areas of audiology are you most interested in?
A: I am most interested in auditory processing disorders and cochlear implants. I am currently working on multiple research studies at Ball State University regarding sound quality/perception and the influence that masks have on speech clarity throughout the pandemic.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is contemplating going into/switching to audiology?
A: Go for it. Audiology is amazing because there are so many different fields to go into! From pediatrics to Veterans Affairs, there are so many different populations to work with, and research, that there is something for everyone!
This interview was completed by Mallory Salmon, a second-year audiology student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Mallory is a member of the SAA Communications Committee.
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