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Still serving the ATSU mission: David Woodruff, AuD

While pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology, David Woodruff, AuD ’02, met a professor who influenced him to head his career path in a new direction — a career in audiology. At the time, his professor was completing his doctoral dissertation on noise pollution in New York City at NYU. “It was fascinating to me, and he was a wonderful professor,” said Dr. Woodruff. “It was an easy decision to pursue audiology as a career.”

“When it was time for me to continue with my doctorate in audiology, I chose ATSU because it was the most flexible of the programs offering the degree. It recognized the areas I was already proficient in and the program allowed me to tailor my courses to my interests and deficiencies in this ever-growing field.”

Although Dr. Woodruff currently works as an audiologist for Ranch Santa Fe Audiology in Calif., he continues to serve the ATSU mission of serving the underserved through his involvement with Americans Helping Asian Children (AHAC). Founded in 1993 by Dr. R.B. Johnson, physician, Trieu Bang, businessman and Bill Dolan, businessman, AHAC is a non-profit , 501 (c) (3) tax- exempt charity organization, founded and supported by volunteers from America and Asia. AHAC is dedicated to providing services and equipment for children in Asian countries who are underprivileged by virtue of physical or mental disability, poverty or absence of family.

“I became involved with AHAC following a discussion I had with my graduate school clinical fellowship year supervisor,” said Dr. Woodruff. “She told me about her wonderful experience traveling to Vietnam and fitting hearing aids on poor, hearing-impaired children. At that time (early 1990s), Vietnam was viewed as an off limits destination for travel. It was still an isolated country without an American Embassy. The next day, I met with one of the founders of AHAC, Dr. Johnson. I found out all volunteers had to pay their own way for expenses. I definitely could not afford it but I decided to go on the next volunteer trip anyway. All it took was one trip and I was hooked. That trip was 20 years ago.”

“Every mission trip is a memorable one so the most recent one always stands out. Our most recent trip was to Myanmar (also known as Burma) where we evaluated approximately 200 hearing-impaired children at the Mary Chapman School for the Deaf in Yangon.”

According to Dr. Woodruff, the work days are usually long and grueling, and the weather is hot and humid. “But we do not think about our discomfort as we see child after child often shoeless, lining up to be examined,” he said. “We decide if we can help each child and how. In most cases, we provide hearing aids for children. Sometimes the child will need further intervention. We then refer them to the local specialist and usually provide financial support for any procedures that are necessary. The cost for medical care is only a fraction of what it would cost in the states.”

When asked  if he could share a story about a particular patient that he cared for with AHAC, Dr. Woodruff responded “There is no particular child that stands out above the rest since they are all heartwarming. Often when fitting a hearing aid on a child that has never heard their mother’s voice before, the experience is indescribable. There are days when the tears in my eyes do not stop.”

Nothing in this world can ever come close to the feeling one gets when being able to help another person, especially a child less privileged than oneself.”

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Still serving the ATSU Mission features an ATSU alumnus who exhibits a continuation of service to the underserved in their professional practice.

 

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