September 10th 2023.
Our kids are coming off the summer season eager for new school adventures, but how can we support the ones with hearing loss? Normal hearing can be taken for granted, but Dr. Saunja T. Burt is doing all she can to debunk misconceptions about the field and encourage families to start interventions for hearing loss as early as possible.
Dr. Burt is a trailblazer among few, currently serving as a clinic support audiologist at Oticon, Inc. Her passion for the field was inspired by her late mother, who made the courageous decision to go back to nursing school when she and her siblings were younger. Growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, Dr. Burt fondly remembers dressing up in a nurse's costume with her mom. It wasn't until she saw an audiologist test her little sister that her calling became a bit clearer.
Dr. Burt graduated from Hampton University with a B.A. in communicative sciences and disorders, and then from Nova Southeastern University with a master's in business administration. She also became the first Black student to attend and graduate from a four-year Au.D. program at Central Michigan University. Her clinical interest focused on auditory processing and traumatic brain injury.
Dr. Burt's late grandfather was proud to have a granddaughter in the profession. She also found support in speaking about certain challenges like access to Black hair care. However, she experienced bigotry from patients or supervisors throughout her journey, which is why she suggests that supervisors be more proactive, get training, and believe the student when they report of bigotry.
Dr. Burt encourages students to get involved as early as possible. She told BLACK ENTERPRISE that she didn't see a lot of people who looked like her on the board of American Academy of Audiology. But when she got involved, she left an indelible legacy and her reach was greater due to the visibility.
When you hear audiology, you might think of hearing aids, but there is much more to this misunderstood discipline. From diagnosing and treating balance disorders and other neurological systems, there are different areas to specialize in. Challenges come in all sizes, but Dr. Saunja T. Burt is paving the way for future generations.
Our kids are coming off the summer season eager to embark on new school adventures, but for those with hearing loss, the start of a new school year can be daunting. Normal hearing can often be taken for granted, but Dr. Saunja T. Burt is aiming to change that.
Dr. Burt, reportedly the first Black audiologist in the Midwest, makes it her mission to debunk misconceptions about the field and encourage families to screen and start interventions for hearing loss as early as possible. She currently serves as a clinic support audiologist at Oticon, Inc.
Her passion for audiology was first inspired by her late mother, who made a courageous decision to return to nursing school when Dr. Burt and her siblings were younger. Growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, Dr. Burt has fond memories of dressing up in a nurse’s costume. It wasn’t until she saw an audiologist test her little sister that her calling became clear.
Dr. Burt received her B.A. in communicative sciences and disorders from Hampton University, an HBCU, and her master’s in business administration from Nova Southeastern University. She then became the first Black student to attend and graduate a four-year Au.D. program at Central Michigan University.
During her commencement ceremony, it was rewarding for her to see generations of older Blacks come up to her, as they did not have the same opportunities she had. Furthermore, her late grandfather, who once wore hearing aids, was proud to see his granddaughter become part of the profession.
Although Dr. Burt experienced bigotry from patients and supervisors, she was determined to stay and make her mark. She found support in speaking about certain challenges such as access to Black hair care, and left a lasting legacy with her involvement in the Black Graduate Student Association and work in minority student services.
Dr. Burt is determined to continue her mission of raising awareness about the importance of early intervention for hearing loss. Recently, she was amazed by how many people reached out to her on Facebook following George Floyd’s death, realizing that she needs to do more to help. She decided to run for the board of the American Academy of Audiology, and is now using her visibility to encourage students to get involved in the profession.
Audiology is often misunderstood, and people tend to think of hearing aids when they hear the word. However, the field extends beyond that. From diagnosing and treating balance disorders and other neurological systems, there are a variety of different areas to specialize in.
It's clear that Dr. Burt is a trailblazer, and her mission to raise awareness for those with hearing loss is inspiring. With her determination and passion, she is an exemplary role model for those with hearing loss and others striving to make their mark in the field.
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