Aimee Johnson admits she has done a lot of random things in her life, and if she really thinks about it, she’ll also admit those random things have led her to where she is today.
The 24-year-old native of Dublin, Georgia, is in her third year of ETSU’s doctor of audiology program. After receiving her undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Georgia, Johnson began visiting graduate programs throughout the southeast, including ETSU.
“I had never been here before. I came and loved the mountains, and I loved the people who work here even more,” she says. “I was immediately confident I was going to be mentored and have good clinical experiences through the program at ETSU.”
Johnson says she “stumbled into” her future career path and credits some of her undergraduate professors with helping her choose audiology as a profession.
“Once I learned more about it, I was hooked. It’s just a neat way to connect with people,” she says. “And it’s a neat way to help people connect with other people, too.”
Her interests are divided between pediatric audiology, vestibular assessment and accessibility of audiologic services and amplification for individuals in rural settings.
During her third year, Johnson is completing her clinicals at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina; Appalachian Speech and Hearing in Johnson City; and the walk-in clinic at the Mountain Home Veteran Affairs Medical Center. She is also working as a graduate assistant at the VA’s vestibular laboratory, where she is involved in research studies that investigate the effects of noise and blast-related injuries on vestibular function.
Last fall, Johnson was among just six individuals in the nation to be awarded the 2016 William F. Austin Scholarship from Starkey Hearing Technologies, a $10,000 scholarship that recognizes outstanding audiology graduate students pursuing clinical, teaching and research careers.
She also currently serves as the president of ETSU’s chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology, volunteers to provide audiology services to underserved populations through regional Remote Area Medical clinics and is among the first LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) trainees at the university.
“It has given me a really great experience in interprofessional training,” Johnson said of her involvement with the LEND program. “It’s focused on kids with developmental disabilities and providing team-based care for those kids.”
In May, Johnson will begin her fourth and final year of the doctor of audiology program by completing her audiology externship at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. But before she leaves, she’ll marry her fiancé, who she met after Googling “camps in Montana” and deciding to work as a counselor for a summer at one of the first camps that popped up through her search.
“Random, I know,” Johnson says with a laugh. “I do a lot of random things in my life.”
She’ll return in May 2018 to cross the stage with the six other members of her cohort, a group she lovingly refers to as “the Magnificent Seven” and “the best cohort ever.” Her return will also mark one more opportunity to see the faculty and staff of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences and thank them for their support.
“I really, really cannot say enough about the faculty. They’ve been incredibly caring on both a personal level and a professional level,” Johnson says. “There’s no doubt they have the students’ best interest at heart. I couldn’t ask for better support during such a busy and stressful time.”
When she’s not doing something for school or planning her wedding, Johnson enjoys trail running, hiking – she tries to hike Roan Mountain at least once a month – and playing piano, a hobby she has had since age 6.
Following graduation, Johnson said she hopes to practice in a rural environment where
she can help the underserved. Although she can’t be sure exactly where that will be,
she said she will, no doubt, take with her “a very deep love of humanitarian advocacy
through Audiology” thanks to her experiences at ETSU.