ASU speech and hearing science students head to Africa with Hearing for Humanity

May 28, 2014

This week, Speech and Hearing Science students at Arizona State University will leave on a month-long humanitarian trip to Malawi, Africa, with Hearing for Humanity, a program founded by ASU in 2010. For the past three years, the Hearing for Humanity program has been sending Doctor of Audiology students, as well as Speech and Hearing Science undergraduate students, from the College of Health Solutions (CHS) to Africa to contribute to sustainable audiology care. This year, CHS is sending its largest team yet, comprised of two clinical audiologists, two faculty leaders and eleven graduate and undergraduate students.

Ingrid McBride, director of the audiology clinic on ASU’s Tempe campus, founded Hearing for Humanity and has been coordinating the program since. “I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of hearing loss, the limited services available and the dire need for education, prevention and treatment of hearing loss in these developing countries,” said McBride. Inspired by her experience on the first trip, she says she strives to continue sharing ASU’s talent and knowledge every year from the esteemed audiology program with a community in need. ASU's 2014 Hearing for Humanity team Download Full Image

Providing access to an impoverished community

McBride says Malawi is an underserved community. High rates of preventable hearing loss in Malawi are due to lack of available care and individuals that aren’t aware of the symptoms. Hearing loss can occur due to genetics but more frequently results from diseases such as malaria, meningitis and ear infections, and the treatments that cause ototoxicity. These diseases may directly result in deafness, or it may be caused indirectly by the side effects of pharmaceutical treatments (quinine for malaria or Gentamicin for meningitis). Without proper screening and treatment, hearing loss will continue to pervade Malawi.

Last year, ASU’s Hearing for Humanity team sent seven students to Malawi to alleviate the burden of hearing loss by testing 496 patients and crafting 215 molds for hearing aids. This year, the students are looking forward to contributing even more on their five-week trip.

Excitement, anticipation felt as students prepare for trip

This student team has been preparing all year for their excursion. Their clinical preparation included contacting manufacturing companies for donations and creating training modules to teach local audiology students at the African Bible College. “Since we focus on sustainable care, we work alongside the two audiologists in Malawi and local students in audiology,” explained Emily Venskytis, a student in the audiology doctorate program. “I am eager not only to teach them what I know, but also to learn from them. I want to know what works best for the people in their community, and provide services so they benefit in the best way possible,” she continued.

Providing culturally sensitive care

Students will also be prepared for cultural immersion. They have been reading books, watching films and discussing how they will form culturally-sensitive relationships while in Africa. “I am most looking forward to the ability to provide hearing health care to people with an entirely different culture and a different worldview,” said Venskytis.

Some students, such as undergraduate Speech and Hearing Science major Sara Jensen, have already experienced African culture. “I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008 and it really changed me as a person,” she said. “It really puts things into perspective and makes you cherish the things that matter most,” she said. McBride says the Hearing for Humanity trip will provide Jensen and the other undergraduates with a great opportunity to step into the clinical realm for training before some of her classmates. Doctorate students will also take advantage of the rare opportunity to supplement their clinical rotations. “This will give me a lot of contact hours and hands-on experience with many different disorders of the ear and hearing, some of which I may not see in the United States,” noted Venskytis.

The team will undoubtedly face challenges on their trip. “In Malawi, we will not have access to much of the technology that we are used to, and will have to utilize other means,” Venskytis said. “We will just have to be flexible with what we have and be prepared for any situation,” she said.

The Hearing for Humanity team leaves for Malawi May 31. Follow their journey on their blog,

Downtown student center recognized with historic preservation award

May 28, 2014

A popular gathering spot for students on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus is now an award-winning facility.

The ASU Student Center @ the Post Office will receive the Governor's Heritage Preservation Honor Award next month at a special luncheon hosted by Arizona State Parks. The 24,000-square-foot facility, located at 522 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, opened its doors in 2013 and is an adaptive re-use of existing space in the Historic Post Office. ASU Student Center @ the Post Office Download Full Image

ASU will be honored by the State Historic Preservation Office Staff at a special award ceremony, which coincides with the 2014 Arizona Historic Preservation Conference on Friday, June 13. The noon luncheon takes place at the Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico, Arizona.

Taking almost two years to plan and construct, the two-story center features amenities such as a student lounge, convenience kiosk, 70-inch television, recreation room, game zone, mediated collaboration and presentation spaces, conference room, a large atrium and a “front porch” area opening to Civic Space Park.

The space also houses headquarters for the Programming and Activities Board, Undergraduate Student Government Downtown and Changemaker Center, a global nonprofit network of social entrepreneurs that supports entrepreneurship education in colleges and universities.

A student government-endorsed fee of $75 per semester funded the $4.7 million refurbishment. Student feedback was also solicited and incorporated throughout the design and construction process. The space is consistent with ASU's focus on being one of the healthiest universities in the nation by promoting a space where students can engage.

The center also fulfills ASU's commitment to sustainability, and includes a number of energy saving features designed by Holly Street Studio Architects, a Phoenix-based firm. Features include natural day lighting, energy efficient lighting systems, low-flow water fixtures, new infrastructure for a future Solar Hot Water system and open vertical circulation to encourage the use of stairs versus elevators.

“Sustainable construction is a part of how we conduct everyday business here,” said Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer at ASU. “ASU has a sustainable design policy and guidelines that our business partners must adhere to on major building renovations, as well as on new construction. It is a great reflection on the entire project team for our efforts to be recognized by the preservation committee for our transformation of the student center into a beautiful space that meets the needs of the modern student.”

Students on the Downtown Phoenix campus pursue degrees offered by ASU's School of Letters & Sciences, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, College of Health Solutions, College of Public Programs and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Barrett, the Honors College also maintains an active presence on the campus, with students in all majors eligible to participate in the Barrett programming.

For more information about the ASU Student Center @ The Post Office, call the dean of student’s office at 602-496-4357 or email at

Reporter , ASU News