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This fall, audiology students Meredith Braza and Amanda Davis received American Academy of Audiology Foundation scholarships. The Doctor of Audiology program is a part of the division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, housed within the Department of Allied Health Sciences.

Meredith Braza Awarded Jerry Northern Scholarship in Pediatric Audiology

Braza is a fourth-year doctor of audiology student and a current pediatric audiology extern at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her background includes a focus on developmental disabilities in children who are deaf or hard of hearing – work that embodies this award.

She credits the mentorship, interdisciplinary coursework, research opportunities and clinical experiences she received while at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that have prepared her to be not only a culturally sensitive, family-centered provider, but also an emerging leader in the field.  Additionally, she has learned to be adaptable and proficient in clinical situations which will serve her well as an independent clinician after graduation.

“I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship. The generous award will allow me to focus all energy on personal and professional growth as I complete my fourth-year audiology externship,” says Braza. “I am also appreciative of the funding to attend one of audiology’s premier learning opportunities, AAA 2022 + HearTECH Expo, to further my knowledge of best practice. In the long-term, this scholarship inspires me to become a leader and innovator in our field, pushing the boundaries of what it means to provide children and families with evidence-based, unbiased, culturally sensitive audiologic care.”

Braza’s interests center around the integration of pediatric audiology services in the interdisciplinary team and greater public health initiatives. In her future career, she seeks to conduct research on the accessibility of hearing healthcare services for families with children who have neurodevelopmental conditions and other complex healthcare needs with the goal of informing quality improvement initiatives.

Amanda Davis Receives Improving the Conversation Scholarship

Amanda Davis is a third-year doctor of audiology student who grew up in a small town in eastern North Carolina, where she first learned how healthcare inequities can impact a community. Her focus on interprofessional practice and the intersection between audiology and public health solidified her placement in the AAAF’s Improving the Conversation Scholarship Program.

Davis’s time in the Doctor of Audiology program has encouraged her to think broadly about the issues of disparities within hearing healthcare. Her mentors are willing to engage in discussion about these topics and support her in asking tough research questions to better explore these issues. Her clinical and academic training at UNC has prepared Davis to enter the workforce ready to provide high-caliber, accessible care to all, as she has been encouraged to approach problems with a creative and persistent mindset.

“Receiving this scholarship has given me greater peace of mind about finances for this academic year. I am so grateful to be able to dedicate more focus to my studies and research goals, rather than worrying about accruing additional student loans,” says Davis. “This would not have been possible without the generosity of those who sponsored this scholarship, and for that, I could not thank them enough.”

In her time in the program, Davis has learned that everyone has a place in the discussion about improving access to hearing health care. These issues are complex, dynamic and deeply intersectional. Beginning to understand how to alleviate them requires interdisciplinary care and team-based approaches that center around a commitment to equity. “I hope to use my seat at the table to encourage and uplift others to use their voices on the issue as well,” she says.

“We are very proud of Meredith and Amanda. They have both worked extremely hard and are well deserving of these awards,” said assistant professor Hannah Siburt, AuD, PhD. “These scholarships provided by the American Academy of Audiology Foundation provide students with instrumental support which allows them to focus on their education.”

The Doctor of Audiology program’s mission is is to prepare exemplary clinicians who are qualified to practice patient-focused, evidence-based audiology in a wide variety of settings. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE) as well as the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).