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What's that singing from the top of Hull Deck? A budding audiologist

Mallory Thomas

April 24, 2019

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This month's Amazing Student is Payton Lack, who is graduating with his B.S.Ed. in Communication Sciences and Disordeers and plans to pursue his doctorate at Auburn University.

Major: B.S.Ed., communication sciences and disorders

Hometown: Eatonton

Graduation: Spring 2019

Question: Why did you choose to come to UGA?
Answer: I've wanted to come here ever since I was younger. My dad went to UGA. But then, senior year hit and we had to apply to three colleges by October, so I went and toured University of North Georgia, Georgia Southern, and Georgia College, and then fell in love with UNG Dahlonega. So, I ended up going there my freshman year. I absolutely loved it, but I knew I would always end up at Georgia, because UGA is one of the three schools in Georgia that has the program for communication sciences and disorders. I was trying to get the most out of my time at UNG, and go two years, then transferred here junior year to get into the program.

But it worked out that I had to come here my sophomore year. I applied to the major my sophomore year, and got in, then started the program junior year. So, I transferred here spring of my sophomore year, and have absolutely loved it.

Q: How was your experience as a transfer student?
A: Because my dad went to Georgia, I've grown up going to football games, and I've always been a huge Georgia fan. I'm an identical twin, so we both went together to UNG. At first, I think my dad was upset because we weren't at Georgia at first, but I was like, "Dad, eventually I'm coming—I'll be there!"

Transitioning was fine, I'm a people person, I love meeting new people. I knew a bunch of people who were here, so I kind of had friends here who I could talk to if I needed to. That's one reason we went to UNG, because no one I knew was going there, and we had the opportunity to meet a whole new group of people. Coming here, I had the same mindset. I know people, but if I don't, I'm just going to make even more friends here. It's a lot bigger here than UNG Dahlonega, but size didn't really play a factor. I have loved every second here.

Q: What are some of your campus involvements?
A: I was super involved at UNG, so coming here, I wanted to get super involved as well. First semester, I was part of University Union, and I was the homegrown events coordinator. I also joined CURE at UGA and absolutely loved that—I was the photography chair for CURE. I was involved in NSSLHA, which is the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, which is a club that's part of our major. So, I got involved with that, and I was heavily involved. But I kind of feel like, at first, I stretched myself too thin, because I was doing all sorts of different things and kind of got stressed out. At that point, I told myself I need to cut back.

Going into junior year, I applied to be the junior representative for NSSLHA and got it! So, I was the junior rep for junior year. I stuck with CURE my junior year too, where I was the photography chair. So, I just narrowed it down to those two, so I could be invested in those and meet people.

Senior year, I'm president of NSSLHA, which is super fun. We have a great group of people. We raise money throughout the year, and all of the money we raise is donated to the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic in Aderhold Hall. Funds go toward scholarships for patients and equipment for the clinic and all of that.

Q: What made you pick your major?
A: I am hearing impaired, and I didn't realize I had a hearing problem until middle school. I went all throughout schooling, up until eighth grade, and in eighth grade I got hearing aids. But in third grade my teacher said, 'I don't think he's hearing everything.' So, I got tubes in fourth grades, and a lot of kids get tubes, and they did help. But after that, they just didn't help as much as they should have. So, in eighth grade I got hearing aids.

Ever since eighth grade, I was like "OK, I want to do something along these lines, to help people who have gone through the same circumstances as me." Most men do ENT (ear, nose, and throat) instead of audiology, so I considered doing ENT, but then I (realized) I wanted to do audiology. I've been through everything patient-wise, once I go through schooling, I can now have that professional side. I think I have a good connection. I chose it because I wanted to relate to my future patients in a personal and unique way than other audiologists.

Q: Who is your favorite College of Education professor and why?
A: That's a hard thing! If you ask anyone, I'm a teacher's pet! I've always been a teacher's pet. I love being buddy-buddy with my teachers. Can I pick two?

My favorite professor would probably be Dr. Mini Shrivastav. She was one of the professors in our major. Not gonna lie, she's one of the hardest teachers I've ever had, but she's so caring and really wants you to succeed. I really felt like I learned so much. She's teaching the audiology classes, and of course that's what I need to know and do well in for my future occupation. She was just so welcoming and helpful. I went to all of her office hours, we had phone calls after tests where she explained what I did wrong, what I did right. She wants you to succeed. After the class, she told me how proud she was of me.

The next one is Holly Kaplan. She's who I'm working in the clinic with right now. She's just a great mentor. She's an audiologist here on campus. She's been there for me throughout my grad school applications and all of my decisions regarding audiology. She's very successful and very knowledgeable in the field. So, it's been awesome to work with her in the clinic, gain that hands-on experience, as well as ask her any questions. She's just always there to help.

Q: What do you do when you aren't in class or doing something school related?
A: I love to hang out with friends. In Dahlonega, we'd always go hiking. If I'm at home, I like going on the lake and going tubing, that's so fun. Also, hanging out with family. I'm a huge family person, so I love having out with family. My brother and I love to sing, so sometimes late at night, like at midnight, we go to the top of Hull deck, and sing in the top room. We used to sing in middle school church band, but we got to high school and stopped singing. So now, we just go to Hull deck and let it all out and post videos on Instagram, that's as far as we'll publicly sing right now!

Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?
A: I'm an identical twin! He's here—he transferred as well. I came spring of sophomore year, and he came fall of junior year. He's in accounting, so he was going to stay at UNG because they have a great accounting program, but then he was like, "No, I want to come to Georgia." We were apart for the semester. It was the first time in 20 years that we were apart! We can do separate things, but we're just very similar, have the same friends, same likes. So that was hard at first. But he's financial planning, so we're definitely two ends of the spectrum for sure.

My mom's also an identical twin, so it's really cool how that worked out. It's supposed to skip a generation, but it didn't.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: I just finished applying to grad schools. Which is such a stressful time—ask anyone in our major. But I'm happy to say that I'm going to Auburn University. I'll be at Auburn in the fall to get my doctorate of audiology. So, that's the next four years. It's a big commitment, but everything has worked out. I'm super excited! My back up plan was real estate; I told my friends, "If I don't get in, I'll just do real estate and love it!" We all joke about that, but no, I'm going to grad school.

So, in four years I plan to graduate from Auburn with my doctorate in audiology. In five years, I would be starting my first year as a practicing audiologist, which is super exciting because it's a long time coming, obviously. I plan on coming back to Georgia, I want to be in Georgia for sure. So, I guess, I'd most likely be in the Atlanta area, because there's such a medical hub there. I'd be freshly out of grad school working as a full-time audiologist.