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Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences students Katie Young and Stephanie Ortega were recently awarded scholarships from the American Academy of Audiology Foundation. Young was awarded the Jerry Northern Scholarship in Pediatric Audiology and Ortega was awarded the Empowering Students Scholarship

The scholarships are funded by The American Academy of Audiology Foundation (AAAF). The programs and initiatives from AAAF impact audiologists, audiology doctoral students, consumers, and those with hearing impairments and disorders. The scholarships are awarded to audiology students to promote the foundation’s mission of support of public awareness, research, and education in audiology, hearing, and balance sciences. It is important that the scholarship recipients support advancements in the hearing sciences that enhance the experience of life. 

The Jerry Northern Scholarship recipients receive a $10,000 scholarship and a $500 travel stipend to attend the foundation’s annual conference that is in Seattle, Washington this year. The Empowering Students Scholarship recipients receive a $5,000 scholarship. 

Get to Know Katie Young

Katie Young’s time at UNC has been filled with a variety of experiences and events to further her education. She is currently pursuing the certificate program at Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities with the intent of further specializing in medically complex pediatric populations with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To correspond with her program, Young is also a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities/Office of Special Education Programs (LEND/OSEP) trainee. She has participated in conferences, research, volunteering, and opportunities for leadership experience, she has been offered many opportunities to achieve that goal.

“Receiving this scholarship provides immediate financial relief,” said Young. “I’ll be able to dedicate more of my time, energy, and attention to my passion and to completing my clinical externship at UNC Hospitals Pediatric Audiology.”

Young’s career goal is to be a pediatric audiologist at a children’s hospital to improve early identification and diagnosis of hearing loss in children. She intends to improve testing approaches, use alternative habilitative and rehabilitative techniques, implement family-centered care, provide more educational materials, connect support professionals and groups, and engage in advocacy locally and nationally. 

She aspires to be involved in research and have a teaching and supervising role as a part of her clinical career to reciprocate and lead the future in the profession.

Meet Stephanie Ortega

Stephanie Ortega’s time at UNC has offered her clinical experience across pediatric and adult populations. Particularly, the diverse patient population has helped her with her pursuit of becoming a bilingual audiologist through her work with Spanish-speaking patients. Ortega is passionate about providing quality care to that population as a way to strive for equal access to healthcare. 

As a graduate clinician, Ortega’s fellowship, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities/Office of Special Education Programs (LEND/OSEP), allows her access to specialized coursework focused on children with complex needs and work with multidisciplinary teams. Her experiences will play a major role as a pediatric audiologist, as her program emphasizes the importance of evidence-based practice and compassion in the field. The relationships that she has built during her time at UNC will aid her and she is grateful for those relationships. 

She is honored to have received the award and knows it will be a continuous motivator to be a leader in the field. 

“Not only does this award empower me, but it inspires me to empower others in this field and to strive to learn and become better each day,” Ortega said.

Ortega is completing her fourth-year externship in Houston, Texas where she is working on a research project for a proposed pediatric bilingual minimum speech test battery to better assess the benefit of traditional amplification and implant considerations for patients raised in bilingual households. She will be presenting her findings at the American Academy of Audiology’s 2023 Conference + HearTech Expo event in Seattle, Washington this upcoming April.