Kellyanne Tyner standing in front of a brick building with a plaque that says "Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services"

Student Spotlight: Kellyanne Tyner, B.S.Ed. Speech Communication Disorders

After taking an introduction to audiology course, Kellyanne fell in love with the data-driven analysis and the people focus of audiology. Being able to help people like her mom, who developed late-onset hearing loss, was a bonus.

Laura Hoxworth

Kellyanne Tyner remembers when her mom developed severe hearing loss. “Around when I was in middle school, my mom got hearing aids. So I’ve always been around someone with hearing loss,” she said. But it wasn’t until she was in college that Tyner realized she could build a rewarding career helping others through similar challenges.

Now a fourth-year in the undergraduate speech communication disorders major at the School of Education and Human Development, Tyner is applying to graduate school to become an audiologist, a health care professional who diagnoses and treats people with hearing loss and related conditions like tinnitus and vertigo.

Tyner, who grew up in a small town in southern Virginia, enjoyed exploring courses in cognitive science, linguistics, and psychology during her first semesters at UVA. But she wasn’t sure what career path to pursue – until she enrolled in an Introduction to Audiology course at EHD. “I completely fell in love with it,” Tyner said.  

Diagnosing hearing loss requires analyzing lots of data and charts, and Tyner found that she loved that aspect of the field. “I was just so fascinated by the way the human ear works, and the different tests we can run to diagnose hearing loss,” she said. “It felt like a puzzle.”  

But she also loves that audiologists work closely with people, too. Tyner said she has learned that a good audiologist is empathetic and understanding. There can be a lot of stigma around hearing aids, which she said she has watched her mom navigate. It’s important to understand each individual’s perspective and priorities to determine how to best support them, she said. “It’s about having conversations with people where you can break down those stigmas, but also meet people where they are.”

This semester, Tyner is preparing for graduate school by completing an independent study. Every Tuesday from 8am –12 pm, she is in the Sheila C. Johnson Center observing clinic appointments with Clinical Assistant Professor Cassie Turner, gaining valuable observation hours and hands-on experience working with audiology equipment. As part of the independent study, she is compiling what she learns into a binder with information about each diagnostic test and piece of equipment, a resource she plans to use in graduate school.

Tyner said she has loved her experience in the speech communication disorders program. “I love the Education School,” she said. “All of the professors are very available and personable – I see them in the hallways and we talk, even if I only had them once or twice. Every time I talk to my friends in other schools at UVA, I’m like, ‘Y’all, I don’t think you know what you’re missing out on!’ It’s the best school at UVA.”

Tyner is also serving as this year’s student state officer for the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, representing Virginia and West Virginia in audiology. Through this opportunity she has been able to meet people in other institutions across the country, making connections and gaining access to professional resources.

In addition to the connections she’s made, Tyner said the most impactful part of the program has been the knowledge she’s gained about special populations and how to be culturally competent within her field. She has taken courses on autism and American Sign Language “ASL is its own full, beautiful language” and is passionate about the importance of audiologists respecting Deaf culture and the Deaf community.

While she’s not sure exactly what setting she wants to work in after graduate school, she enjoys working with adults, and particularly veterans. “It can be so debilitating when you’ve been able to hear for a long time and then you lose that,” she said. “Hearing loss has a lot of connections to isolation and depression. Some of the conversations I’ve observed in clinic almost bring tears to your eyes because of how emotionally taxing it can be.”

For now, she loves that she can tag along to her mom’s appointments and understand her charts. And for the final project of her independent study, her mom plans to travel to Charlottesville so that Tyner can practice running assessments on someone with hearing loss. In the future, Tyner looks forward to helping others experiencing hearing loss by providing knowledgeable, compassionate care. “I really love that we get to help people like my mom,” she said.  

Major in Speech Communication Disorders

Learn more about our undergraduate degree program for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist.

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Laura Hoxworth