Audiology has proven to be a fulfilling and impactful career path for Jude Harper, who sees working alongside the Deaf community as a privilege.
Jude Harper first studied linguistics, music and psychology at the University, before returning to complete her Master of Clinical Audiology. At the time, she had no idea how perfectly these studies would come together for the role she holds now – audiologist at Aurora School in Melbourne.
Why did you choose the University of Melbourne and what was your experience like?
When choosing where to study, I thought Melbourne sounded like an artistic and cultural city. Coming from country NSW, I was excited to move to a new and interesting part of Australia.
I loved my time at the University of Melbourne! I loved the friendships I made on campus, the coffee shops in Carlton, and the inspiring atmosphere of being immersed in a community of learning.
Tell us about your current role and how your studies helped you prepare for it.
I work as the audiologist at Aurora School in Blackburn South, a special school for young children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH). The children are aged from a few months old up until they are six or seven years of age in their first year of school. It is a lovely job – I get to work with the children and also their families.
Aurora is a bilingual school, with Auslan and English both used equally. My undergraduate studies in linguistics, music and psychology, and postgraduate studies in audiology have given me an excellent grounding to do my job. I appreciate and use everything I learnt at University even now – 30 years after I was a first-year student.
My undergraduate studies saw me investigate the neuropsychology and linguistics of signed languages and my Masters thesis was on ‘Cochlear Implantation in Multiply Disabled Children’. I didn’t realise at the time how perfectly my studies would suit my job, but they do!
What are some career highlights so far?
My current role at Aurora School is definitely a highlight – it is a wonderful thing to be able to genuinely say ‘I love my job’!
It is very special to work in a bilingual environment. Auslan is more than a language – it is intertwined with Deaf culture. I feel so privileged to work alongside Deaf people. I also love that I work in paediatric rehabilitation with many complex cases. It is a very rewarding and challenging caseload. I learn something new every day at work.
Other highlights include doing outreach work in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. I’d love to do more outreach work in the future.
What does a normal day at work look like for you?
Each day I check that children’s hearing devices are working. The children use a variety of technology: cochlear implants, hearing aids, bone conductor hearing aids, remote microphones to name a few. Managing the constantly changing technology keeps me on my toes.
Then, I work with children 1:1 and in small groups. I check their hearing, both with and without their devices, I monitor their middle ear health, and I play games with the children that focus on their auditory and language development.
I also work with families, helping them understand their children’s audiological needs, and provide support where I can.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best piece of advice I’ve been given was ‘you can do anything and everything, just not all at the same time’.
I remember as a student wanting to work, and travel, and start a family, and buy a house, and enjoy my life, and do further study. All my ambitions were overwhelming. Then this piece of advice, to do all these things, just one at a time, seemed to make it all possible.
What advice do you have for current students?
Savour your time as a student. It will likely be some of the most enjoyable, free and stimulating times of your life.
Immerse yourself in the academic community, follow subjects that fascinate you, and enjoy the many delicious cafes that surround the University!