Audiology Master’s Student Graduates Summa Cum Laude
Ms Michaela Sewpersad was awarded her Master’s in Audiology summa cum laude.
Supervised by Ms Nasim Banu Khan, Sewpersad’s study was titled: A Mixed Methods Systematic Scoping Review on Task-Shifting in Audiology: Training and Experiences of Community Healthcare Workers. It examined whether the trend in public health to rationally redistribute tasks to lower cadres could address human resources shortages.
‘This is pertinent for audiology where access to hearing health services in low to middle-income countries is either limited or completely absent, yet these are the countries with the highest prevalence of hearing loss,’ said Sewpersad.
This study investigated the extent to which community healthcare workers (CHW) have been trained to provide hearing health services. ‘This research is particularly important for policy-makers looking to implement a CHW model of service delivery in terms of what training is most effective and CHW responsiveness to such training,’ she said.
In the midst of COVID-19, Sewpersad had to reconceptualise her study and towards the tail-end of her study, she was working full-time; was involved in an accident; and had a very close encounter with nature. ‘Don’t feed wild animals, they bite!’ she quipped.
Sewpersad’s interest in audiology was ignited when her mother was diagnosed with a vestibular schwannoma, a tumour infringing primarily on the vestibulo-cochlear nerve that is responsible for equilibrium maintenance and hearing. ‘I grew up witnessing the impact of a loss of hearing and balance in my mom’s life, and how she strived to ensure her difficulties did not affect her outlook on life or impede her professional growth,’ she said.
She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Audiology cum laude in 2018 and was the top performing audiology student in clinical practice, theory, and community outreach. She obtained Dean’s Commendations every semester and was admitted to the Golden Key International Honour Society.
Sewpersad thanked God, her parents for their encouragement, her partner for his unwavering support and Khan for her guidance and commitment. ‘This project reflects her passion for public health and her skilfulness as a researcher with great foresight and grounding.’
She is currently anaudiologist in the Department of Health and plans to pursue a PhD in Audiology.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini