April 4, 2019

Meet Tia McDonald from our Doctorate in Audiology program

Meet Tia McDonald from our Doctorate in Audiology program. She is a student feature! #uamschp

My name is Tia McDonald. I am a 4th-year audiology student at UAMS.
I am from the great state of Maryland; home of Old Bay, the Blue Crab, and Berger Cookies (Berger Cookies= life, look these up…you won’t be disappointed? ).

I am at the very beginning of my career goals. I chose to join the US Army to pursue audiology in the military. It is distinctly different from most audiology jobs because I act as a preventative health officer in addition to my role as an audiologist. In the military, audiologists are viewed as hearing experts. The Army specifically, views hearing and hearing loss among the general public as well as service members as a public health matter. As an Army audiologist I will focus on hearing loss prevention, diagnosing hearing loss in service members and their dependents, education about hearing and hearing protection, and after I graduate I will go on to operate a Hearing Conservation Program. I am very excited to have a career serving and providing care to the nation’s service members. I see myself going career in the military, which means I hope to complete 20 or more years serving. I would like to pursue my Ph.D. focusing on telepractice and its role in hearing loss prevention somewhere in the process, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now, clinic is fun and learning the Army has its own, very interesting, learning curve.

I graduate May 18th, 2019. Very soon! It has been a long process, but I am excited for my chosen career path. I am even more excited to start the next chapter.

While I was in Little Rock I was active at the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center. I participated in the Interprofessional Fresh Food Coalition. I was active in my church. I volunteered 2 Sundays out of every month in the Special Needs Ministry and the Hospitality Ministry. I traveled to Guatemala for 2 years on mission with my church. I hope to continue traveling to Guatemala with my church even though I no longer live in Little Rock.
Currently, I am growing more active in professional organizations as I grow into my career. I have become an active member of the Medical Service Corps Association. I have also started volunteering with the Junior Officer Club as well as the Sexual Harassment Assault and Rape Prevention (SHARP) initiative at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Getting involved has been a great way to get to know new people and make connections beyond audiology.

What motivates me is a very simple recipe. My faith, my family, and my purpose. To quote the infamous, Mary Kay, “God first, family second, career third.” I am motivated by living unselfishly and living balanced. My desire to live this way helps me keep perspective and it helps me to sweat the little things a little bit less. My faith has given me the courage and the strength to pursue my passion and learn what makes me who I am, unapologetically. I have been blessed with a wonderful support group, both near and far, and they have kept me going through every challenge, every celebration, and every moment in between. My successes and failures are theirs as much as they are mine. My support group has taught me the value of living for something other than yourself. They have taught me how to be raw, humble, and authentic. Most importantly, they have taught me that to give is greater than it is to receive.

Lastly, my primary motivators are my parents. They worked hard to provide my sister and I with opportunities that they never had. Seeing their sacrifices as we grew up and now sharing this wild journey into adulthood with them has by my side has been a radical experience. For example, both of my parents are veterans. When I decided to join the Army, I kept my commissioning a secret, so I could surprise my parents and have them in attendance. My classmates, recruiter, and the Audiology department worked together to pull off the commissioning at our White Coat Ceremony, so we could all celebrate together. It was such a sweet moment and my parents were speechless. It was a proud moment for them as well as me. For them, it was a moment when everything in their lives came full circle. It has been an honor to have my parents go through all of this with me. I am blessed to have their wisdom in my life.