‘Hearing is the Doorway to Your Brain’

Santiago PerezSantiago Perez AuD '22 is among eight audiology students nationwide to receive a $3,000 scholarship from CaptionCall, a company which makes phones for people with hearing loss with real-time speech transcription.

News of the scholarship came at the right time for Perez.

A graduate student studying for his doctor of audiology at Pacific University, Perez had just been diagnosed with COVID-19 before getting the news in March 2021. He lost his sense of taste and smell for about one month, and couldn’t even taste his birthday cake.

“It definitely brought my spirits up during a difficult time,” Perez said. “I had been battling COVID, juggling school work and trying to work out plans for my internship. It all hit me hard. I’m also grateful for the support of my family and professors.”

A third-year graduate student, his research focuses on health disparities related to diabetes and hearing loss, especially among diverse populations. Perez is passionate about vestibular assessments and complex hearing loss cases, such as single-sided deafness and conductive hearing losses.

An externship with Owens Ear Center in Plano and Ft. Worth, Texas, allows him to work with a variety of hearing loss patients and fine tune his diagnostic skills and understanding of cochlear implants.

“Helping people rediscover hearing and providing solutions for them to help get their quality of life back and reconnecting them with the world is what keeps me going. Hearing is the doorway to your brain.”

Born in Laredo, Texas, Perez says he chose Pacific University to get out of his comfort zone and spend some time in the Pacific Northwest. He was also attracted to the accelerated three-year doctoral program offered at Pacific University’s School of Audiology, which is part of the renowned College of Health Professions in Hillsboro, Ore.

Perez says while he had to work on his time-management, he preferred the two-week intensive curriculum to semester-long courses.

“When you’re unsure of a concept, sometimes you just need to have it explained in a different way. The environment was conducive to that,” he said. “I felt heard and supported. No dull moments. It’s been a great ride at Pacific for me.”

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021