Meet Our Stellar Students
Stellar Student: Aaron Beard
Some students come to COE right out of high school with a clear academic path—some have a few stops along the way. The latter was non-traditional student Aaron Beard’s experience. Once he returned to college after an almost 20-year gap (and a few different careers), he recalls the help of COE Academic Advisor Hanna Solberg as, "Amazing. There are many difficult hurdles for adults returning to school, but Hanna has been my own personal Google. Without her, I would be taking the wrong classes."
Aaron describes himself as a jack-of-all-trades. After high school, he spent a short time in college before joining a journeyman program. He took those hands-on skills to Deloitte by working in facilities, then moving up to an administrative support position. He got married to wife, Angie, and they started a family. Life was stable and good, but he fantasized about doing something else, career-wise.
"I initially returned to school to better understand Fletcher's needs, to do everything to help my son, but along the way that changed. Now I want to use my knowledge to benefit others."
A new career path emerged after the birth of second son, Fletcher, who was born profoundly deaf and received cochlear implants at age one. Knowing that Fletcher would eventually need speech therapy to learn to hear with his implants, Aaron contacted colleges the day after scheduling implantation surgery, to learn about his options for entering a pre-SLP program. He chose COE, and after recently completing his first two years, he was officially accepted into the SLP program last fall.
"I initially returned to school to better understand Fletcher's needs, to do everything to help my son, but along the way that changed. Now I want to use my knowledge to benefit others. Through my home visit experiences for school, I realized that kids are very receptive to me, and I can talk to parents, too. I have been on both sides: the parent who’s scared and the consultant who’s providing answers."
Aaron is already doing critical work towards supporting deaf children and their families through policy change. He is the recipient of a Parents Scholarship from the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program and is working on a year-long project—which includes writing a script for nurses—to improve how parents are notified of their child's hearing screening results in the hospital.
A self-described "dad" in his courses, he has some advice for his fellow students, life-changing advice he received from his own dad at a time when he needed some clear direction: "Plans change. Get your ducks in a row." And as Aaron knows first-hand, changes in plans can often become wonderful new opportunities.