Michael Burchesky ’17 will pursue his Doctor of Audiology degree (Au.D.) at Vanderbilt University’s audiology program, which U.S. News has consistently ranked as the number one program in the field.
With his passion for “any and all things audio,” as well as his interests in music, language and philosophy, this prestigious opportunity sounds like a perfect match for Burchesky.
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies
Hometown: Canonsburg, Pa.
High School: Canon-McMillan High
Specifically, Burchesky added, “I am fascinated by the inner-workings of the human ear as well as hearing aid and cochlear implant technologies. As a musician, I am especially interested in research on cochlear implants and music appreciation—how the technology can be improved for people to more fully enjoy listening to music as well as natural speech for communication.”
He discovered these interests by taking sign language and deaf culture courses, where he learned about hearing, the deaf community and audiology. In addition to his interdisciplinary interests that all point to audiology, Burchesky emphasized his “deep respect and admiration for deaf culture.”
“I was hooked,” he explained. “For once, someone was describing a job that I could see myself doing, and I wanted to learn as much about it as possible!”
From that moment on, Burchesky zeroed in on this newfound passion. “The first step to reorient myself and my education was to create an interdisciplinary major in psycholinguistics,” which he constructed as a combination of psychology and linguistics with a focus on the perception and production of language in the brain.
With the help of Hamilton’s summer funding, he then dedicated his summer before senior year to volunteering at Vanderbilt’s Bill Wilkerson Center, where he worked alongside professional audiologists, speech pathologists, hearing technicians and surgeons and had the rare opportunity to observe two cochlear implant surgeries—an opportunity usually reserved for students well into their graduate education.
Next, Burchesky studied abroad in Australia, a hub for audiology research with the largest cochlear implant manufacturer in the world and the National Acoustics Laboratory—he even was able to meet Dr. Graeme Clark, the inventor of the cochlear implant himself. Burchesky took an advanced audiology class at the University of Sydney’s medical school. “Hamilton would not accept any transfer credit for my taking this class, but it was more important to me to have this introduction to the field and gain the relevant knowledge,” he noted
Even so, Burchesky expressed gratitude for the College’s role in the experiences that led him to this point, particularly its interdisciplinary opportunities, summer internship funding program and study abroad office. “Finally,” he mentioned, “it was only through the Career Center, and programs like First Year Forward, that I acquired the skills to analyze my passions, interests, skills and values to research possible careers, send out exploratory emails, conduct information interviews and network. These tools were necessary for me to have any of these incredible experiences.”
Burchesky truly utilized Hamilton’s resources to the fullest and is now positioned to excel in audiology. Without a doubt, we will hear great things from him in the future.