Nicole Segershayan ’20 was born with a unilateral sensorineural profound hearing loss in her left ear, which was not detected until she was 9 years old. The experiences she has had as a result of her hearing loss inspired her to become an audiologist. Segershayan traded the sights and sounds of Staten Island, New York for those of San Francisco when she began the doctor of audiology (AuD) program in August.
“I was told at a really young age that I couldn’t do a lot of things — be a cop, be a firefighter, all these things, because you needed ’20/20’ hearing.”
These experiences gave her a passion for promoting early detection. Her goal is to “make sure that children are given their optimum living experience and are able to choose whatever career path they want.”
“I think a lot of people think that a hearing loss is a disadvantage in this field, but to me it is an advantage. I’ve been able to watch audiologists for more than half my life.”
As she pursues a career in audiology, her own hearing loss brings both challenges and opportunities. “I think a lot of people think that a hearing loss is a disadvantage in this field, but to me it is an advantage. I’ve been able to watch audiologists for more than half my life.” Working in the clinic she has been able to put herself in the patient’s shoes, because she knows what they are going through.
Her first day in the clinic is one she will remember for the rest of her career. “I got a little necklace from a patient. It was really cool. I guess she sells jewelry and she had an extra one in her pocket. I’m going to save it, probably for the rest of my life.”
Sefershayan and her classmates will be the third graduating class of Pacific’s AuD program. “I love that I get to be in the beginning of something, building from the ground up,” Sefershayan said. “It is also an accelerated program and I like that because you get hands-on experience from day one. You’re in the clinic, you’re learning, you’re interacting with patients and they give you all the tools that you need very early on.”
“What makes this program so special is the amount of time you get in the clinic,” Sefershayan said. “Nine hours a week, a full day. It makes it feel like a job, you’re doing an audiologist’s job for a day once a week.” Within the first few weeks she was able to do a full audio assessment and an ear mold impression.
Looking to the future, her goal is to open a private practice clinic with members of her family, who include a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. “We hope one day, in the near future, we can open up our own family-owned private practice for children with multiple disabilities that can attend to their disabilities in one location,” Sefershayan said.
Being accepted to Pacific’s AuD program boosts her confidence and strengthens her resolve to pursue a career in audiology. “[It] meant a lot to know that they saw something in me, to know that I will be an exceptional audiologist.”
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold