New Role Helps Widen Scope of Audiologist’s Service to Profession
In July, Dr. Jackie Clark became president-elect of the American Academy of Audiology, the world's largest professional organization of, by and for audiologists.
As a child, clinical professor Dr. Jackie Clark was taught to serve other people. Now, in a new leadership role with a major audiology professional organization, she has the opportunity to positively impact an entire profession.
Clark MS'87, PhD'95 recently was chosen president-elect of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). Her term began in July and will be followed by one year as president and another year as past president.
“The academy really is the voice of audiology. I’m looking forward to using my new role to help make a difference for audiologists all over the country,” she said.
The American Academy of Audiology is the world's largest professional organization of, by and for audiologists. With a membership of more than 12,000 people, the organization is dedicated to providing quality hearing care services through professional development, education, research, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders.
Clark, a clinical professor in the Doctor of Audiology program at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, has served on the academy’s board for three years. She said the organization focuses on public policy issues, as well as member education.
“The American Academy of Audiology speaks for the profession of audiology, so elected officials will listen when AAA representatives come in to talk about potential bills and legislation,” she said.
Clark's work extends to countries in Africa, including Mozambique, where she has helped them build their own audiology programs and conduct preschool hearing screenings.
Dr. Colleen Le Prell, Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor in Hearing Science and Program Head of Audiology, said Clark is highly committed to the profession of audiology.
“Jackie seeks to advance the profession through advocacy, education, public awareness and support of research,” Le Prell said. “She is an advocate for patients, and an advocate for education that prepares future audiologists to be autonomous.”
Clark’s service to the audiology profession is only one part of her commitment to volunteering. For years, she has been providing services to people with hearing loss in developing countries in Africa. She also consults regularly with the World Health Organization and various universities in Africa and China.
Each year, she leads a team, primarily made up of students from the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, to visit countries such as Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. The annual trip is intended to support the work of audiologists in a particular country, ultimately helping that country build its own audiology program.
“I really relate to people in these developing countries, because I remember being hungry. I love introducing the students to a different culture and another person’s reality,” she said. “I ask the students, ‘What can we do to improve their lives?’ I can’t build a house for them. I can’t cure AIDS. But if I can help them hear and be part of the community, I’m impacting the quality of their lives in a positive way.”
“The academy really is the voice of audiology. I’m looking forward to using my new role to help make a difference for audiologists all over the country.”
As part of her support strategy, Clark co-founded the Coalition for Global Hearing Health, a foundation intended to advocate for hearing health services, to equip those involved in the hearing health community, and to encourage and perpetuate best practices.
Clark said she entered the field of audiology to help people. She was inspired by a speech-language pathologist who helped her to overcome learning disabilities and speaking issues.
“The first time I read the Pledge of Allegiance was a jaw-dropping, eye-opening event for me,” she said. “I’d been saying the Pledge of Allegiance for years, but it made no sense to me. It was just gibberish. Then when I read it, it was like, ‘Oh, that’s what they’re saying; now I understand.’”
Although she began her career in business, Clark went back to school — at UT Dallas — with the goal of becoming a speech-language pathologist. But after taking some audiology classes, she decided that was the field she wanted to pursue. She ended up earning her PhD in communications disorders.
Clark teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in audiology, regularly sees clients, and works with graduate students in a teaching clinic. Even with her teaching commitments, she makes sure she has time to serve.
“We’re here to give. I always have liked the phrase, ‘Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution,’” Clark said. “I like being able to give back, and I love being able to serve people.”
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