Audiology Senior Allison Archer

Allison ArcherThis semester I had the wonderful opportunity of being able to participate in the IE program. I had both a student mentor and a faculty member who oversaw us, so it was doubly beneficial. The most initially helpful aspect of the internship was getting to discuss graduate school applications and GRE preparation with my student mentor. Being the first person in my family to go to Graduate School, and not having older friends in college, I had no idea that there even was such a thing as the GRE! I did not find out about it until a couple of months ago; had I known, I would have taken it over the summer when I had nothing else going on and plenty of free time to prepare. When the semester began, I was so stressed out with my classes, work, and figuring out where and how to apply that the idea of studying effectively for the GRE on top of all that was making me very anxious. I talked to my mentor about it and she definitely had a lot of good advice about working on test-taking strategies and math review as opposed to trying to memorize vocabulary and spending hours and hours filling out a preparatory manual. Once I realized that it was not going to be so hard, my stress level dropped a lot and I have been able to manage my time better. She also helped me learn about the graduate program here at UT and the clinical opportunities.

Our faculty supervisor came up with a list of activities from which I could choose one to do each week. These included such things as attending graduate level classes, interviewing faculty and graduate students, and observing in the clinic here as well as off campus, among other things. I have been able to work through over half of the suggested activities at this point, most of which are things I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise! So far I have attended two different graduate level classes (one about business, the other about research), I have conducted both faculty and graduate student interviews, I have gotten to observe twice on campus (assessment for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and a Hearing Aid fitting meeting), and had the chance to work with a special computer program designed to test hearing in noise. All that and there are still two more weeks of class to go! Through doing these activities I feel I have been able to get a good idea of what I will be doing as a graduate student. I have learned that the classes are much more intimate and that the professors ask for student input in preparing their lessons and setting assignments; that the graduate students are sometimes even treated as colleagues.

I've learned that the program at UT is still only a few years old for my major, Audiology, and that they are making changes every year to improve the program. In the past, for example, because some topics didn't have their own class, AuD students shared classes that were aimed at students in other majors; now more classes have been added and tailored for the AuD students. Also, more topics are covered in class unlike in the past when information on certain topics was learned by attending seminars; the school has hired more faculty and staff with specializations in certain areas.

I've been able to sit in on hearing screenings and hearing aid fittings; I have not only seen how the procedures are carried out but also how the students interact with the patients and make them feel comfortable. Before the IE program, I had not known how much the students actually worked with patients or that they actually started meeting with them in their first year of graduate school! I found that both intimidating but extremely exciting.

Though my faculty supervisor did not require that I do volunteer work, the program inspired me to look into this. I have worked every week this semester at the Capitol School of Austin, a school that provides education and speech and motor therapy for children with speech and learning differences. Each week I help out in the third grade classroom for an hour and then assist the Occupational Therapist for another hour with the same group of children. Not only did this give me insight into the types of cases I may be working with in my future career, it helped me with my current job! I am a nanny and by seeing different ways to instruct, interact with, motivate, and redirect children demonstrated by the exceptional teachers I have been able to improve my own childcare skills. Another unexpected benefit of this volunteer work is that I have had the privilege to substitute teach as an assistant on a couple of occasions. It has been a fun, exhausting, and fascinating experience!

The Intellectual Entrepreneurship program has been invaluable to me! Earlier this week I took the GRE, stress free, and earned a quite decent score. I have also submitted one of my graduate school applications and am nearly done with the rest! I have become more independent and motivated and learned to take the initiative.