Rachel Wade was introduced to the world of speech and hearing science at an early age—her mother is a speech-language pathologist—but it wasn’t until studying the ear as an undergraduate at Ohio State University that she really fell in love with the field.
“I thought the ear was so fascinating and unique that it really piqued my interest,” she says. “I started looking into audiology as a profession and never looked back.”
After finishing at OSU, Rachel, who grew up in Hudson, Ohio, entered the University of Cincinnati’s Doctoral Program in Audiology. During her third year at UC, she was placed at Ohio Valley Voices for her clinical rotation and felt an immediate connection to the organization. She was struck in particular by the sense of community she found at OVV. “I really loved how I would see the same kids every single day,” she recalls.
Within a few months of starting at OVV, Rachel was offered the chance to complete her fourth and final year of clinical training as the program’s first audiology extern. She readily accepted. This soon blossomed into a regular full-time position, which she began in July of 2020.
Rachel is now one half of Ohio Valley Voices’ resident audiology team. Working alongside Erin Lipps, she draws on her technical knowledge to ensure that every child at OVV has good access to sound. “We are constantly testing hearing, doing aided testing with devices on, and making programming changes to ensure the child can hear the best he or she can,” she explains. “We work with hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing aids, and cochlear implants on a daily basis.”
Through her efforts, Rachel plays a crucial role in OVV’s intervention program. After all, it is only with good access to sound that the children of OVV can develop their listening and speaking skills.
Reflecting on her work, Rachel says she loves the collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that OVV’s onsite clinic allows: “I am constantly working with the program’s speech-language pathologists, deaf educators, classroom teachers, and teachers’ aides to best help the child. I love how we can bounce ideas off each other, share opinions, and put our brains together to ensure the child is successful.”
Rachel also cherishes the opportunity to build personal relationships with the children who visit her at the clinic. “It is truly special to help a child from their enrollment all the way through their graduation. We serve many alumni patients as well and always love seeing familiar faces after they have graduated from OVV.”
When she isn’t working, Rachel can be found with her nose in a book. For the past few years, she has resolved to read 52 books—a goal she has no trouble reaching. She imparts this love of learning and can-do attitude to the children of OVV. Her motto: “The secret to life is to fall seven times but get up eight times.”