Nova Southeastern University Visits Capitol Hill
Front Row (left to right): Rachel Chu and Danielle Roth.
Middle Row (left to right): Gabriela Aguilar, Ashley Radcliffe, and Danielle Dunn.
Back Row (left to right): Karen Woldt and Carolyn Rosemurgy.
On Friday May 20, seven students and three faculty members from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) traveled to Capitol Hill. This is the second consecutive year that NSU’s Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) has sent a group of students to Washington, DC, to advocate for the profession of audiology. This particular group of students consisted of both first and second year AuD students, all of whom were first time Capitol Hill advocates for the profession of Audiology. NSU SAA members had participated in a local advocacy trip to Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) office earlier this year to discuss issues of importance to audiology. This outing had a very positive impact on our chapter, and we wanted to continue advocating for legislative issues that would both positively and negatively affect the profession of audiology as well as individuals with hearing loss.
The thought of advocating on Capitol Hill can be very intimidating. However, as future professionals in the field of audiology, NSU doctor of audiology students recognized the importance of this task. We spent many hours preparing in advance. Once in Washington, DC, we started the day with a briefing by the American Academy of Audiology government relations staff, which included Marilyn Richmond and Kate Thomas. Then, it was off “to the Hill” to begin our busy day. We met with key Congressional offices including Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL-22nd ), Brian Babin, (R-TX-36th), Kathleen Rice (D-NY-4th), Charles Dent (R-PA-15th), Will Hurd (R-TX-23rd), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12th ), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23rd), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14th), and James Langevin (D-RI-2nd). Advocacy included support for the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act (S. 315, H.R. 1882). We voiced our concerns and reasons for opposition to the Veteran’s Access to Hearing Health Act of 2015 (H.R. 353) and the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act (S. 564), as well as the Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act (H.R.1116).
Danielle Roth, a first-year audiology student and the NSU SAA Government Relations Chair stated, “I was extremely excited about this trip after planning it and seeing the interest in attending by other members of SAA. Our professors that attended were also extremely helpful in the preparation process, as well as Marilyn and Kate from the Academy. Initially, I had gone into the day of advocating incredibly nervous and didn’t know what to expect. However, after our first meeting of the day went so well, I was ready to take on the rest of the day and meet with other Representatives. All of the people we met with were very receptive and asked follow up questions in order to fully understand our point of view on the three pieces of legislation we discussed.”
Gabriela Aguilar, a first-year audiology student was also in attendance. “My experience on Capitol Hill was a very positive one. When meeting with the office of Representative Will Hurd (R-TX-23rd), I was able to connect with the legislative correspondent since she was also from San Antonio, Texas. I also have a longstanding military background, so voicing my opposition to the Fit to Serve bill has a particular importance to me. The correspondent was extremely receptive to my concerns regarding this legislation.”
Carolyn Rosemurgy, a second-year audiology student stated, “Discussing important audiology related bills with the representative’s staff members was a wonderful experience! Not only were many of them already familiar with audiology as a profession, which was a breath of fresh air, but they were genuinely interested in our thoughts and opinions.”
NSU SAA students clearly recognize the need to invest in and advocate for the profession. Understanding legislation that is helpful and hurtful to audiology is a key component for success and growth of the field. This trip to Capitol Hill was the second consecutive trip and will hopefully be an annual occurrence in the future. Both last year’s trip and this year’s trip to Washington, DC, have had a very positive impact on the SAA members at NSU, including developing positive relationships with key congressional offices. Both of these trips could not have been possible without the help of the government relations staff of Academy, Marilyn Richmond and Kate Thomas.