Diversity Fellow Project, Aijiana Zanders

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Do the Characteristics of Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing with Additional Disabilities Differ by Race/Ethnicity or Other Demographic Factors?

Do the Characteristics of Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing with Additional Disabilities Differ by Race/Ethnicity or Other Demographic Factors? [download poster]

meet Aijiana Zanders >

Project Narrative

1. Please describe your activities during your Fellowship experience. Describe your final capstone project(s).
During my Fellowship experience, I participated in quarterly conference calls and monthly diversity meetings. These activities provided me the opportunity to converse with other Fellows and mentors regarding my project. My final capstone project was a poster that was presented at the annual Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) conference. The poster evaluated whether the characteristics of deaf/hard of hearing children with additional disabilities differ by race/ethnicity or other demographic factors. The purpose of the study was to analyze data from 13 states, using the National Early Childhood Assessment Project (NECAP) database, to determine the proportion and demographic characteristics of children that are deaf and hard of hearing with additional disabilities. My systems change product was a summary of my project and my findings. I plan to share the summary with EHDI coordinators to encourage all EHDI programs to participate in data collections such as the NECAP database, especially regarding diversity demographics. 

2. Who did your project inform, help, influence or impact? (UCEDD, individual, community, state) How?
My project informed students, educators, researchers, advocates, and families of children with hearing loss. My project evaluated a topic area that has limited research. The findings of my exploratory analysis provided informative and helpful information. My project showed that further research and analysis needs to be conducted to better understand the interaction of the factors that which I evaluated, and how they relate to outcomes for children who are deaf/hard of hearing with additional areas of challenge.

3. Why did you choose to work on that project(s)?
I chose to work on this project because I am passionate about audiology and diversity! I wanted my project to incorporate both areas because of my interest level and investment in both of them. There is limited research that looks at the proportion and type of children with hearing loss that are deaf/hard of hearing with additional disabilities. In addition, other variables such as degree of hearing loss, ethnicity and race, and maternal level of education have not been evaluated in this context. Also, I chose to work on this project because it gave me the opportunity to present at a well accredited conference. That was my first time ever doing that, and it was an amazing opportunity.

4. What did you gain from being a Diversity Fellow?
Being a Diversity Fellow was an excellent experience for me. I was able to complete a systems change project that I am passionate about. I gained the experience of working with several advisors toward the common goal of completing a project. It was very beneficial being able to converse and work with other Diversity Fellows. The other fellows provided me with various tips and ideas that were useful for my project. Being a Diversity Fellow provided me with a healthy intellectual challenge, which will be helpful for me as a professional in the future.

5. How will this experience impact your education or career decisions?
Being a Diversity Fellow impacted my education in a positive way. This experience gave me the opportunity to work on a systems change research project with the support of many advisors. Not only did I learn a lot about audiology, but I also learned how to work with multiple advisors, and how to effectively produce a systems change product. It will be important for me to be able to effectively work with multiple supervisors during my career. This experience was a useful asset for my current education and for my future career.

6. What are your future goals? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
My main future goal is to be an excellent pediatric audiologist. Five years from now, I see myself working as an audiologist in a hospital setting. I plan to continue to stay current with new research regarding audiology by attending continuing education activities and reading related recent articles. Also, I plan to remain current on health-related research that may also relate to the patients I work with, such as speech pathology, psychology, and developmental pediatrics. It is also my goal to someday be a supervisor for Audiology graduate students.

7. What recommendations do you have for other Fellows?
For other Diversity Fellows, I recommend being open and willing to try new things. I believe the more open one is, the more they will get out of the experience. Do not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Being able to step outside of your comfort zone can present with exceptional learning opportunities. The Diversity Fellowship is an excellent learning opportunity, and the advisors will be there to help and support you. Ask for help from your other Fellows when necessary, and have fun!

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