When Shannon Muzio decided to pursue Audiology, she had one goal in mind – to give others the ability to hear.
For Muzio, of Fresno, this was more than just a major to her. It was personal. Born with congenital hearing loss, she knows about the challenges firsthand, which makes her well-equipped and ready to serve in the field.
Muzio, who has always strived to overcome adversity with strength, will earn her bachelor’s degree in Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies with an option in Audiology, as well as a minor in Agricultural Business. She graduates with a 4.0 G.P.A and the distinction of being the 2019 Undergraduate Dean’s Medalist for the College of Health and Human Services.
Humble by nature, Muzio credits much of her success to the faculty that guided her along the way.
“We have amazing faculty and programs at Fresno State and because of my education I received here, I was able to get into the top Audiology programs in the country,” Muzio said. “I think that’s really a reflection on Fresno State more than a reflection on me.”
Muzio applied to 10 different Doctor of Audiology programs and was accepted into nine of them. She chose to pursue the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. But to understand her journey, it’s important to get a glimpse into her past.
Born with a cleft palate, Muzio’s ears were not able to develop properly. Throughout much of her childhood, she did not have ears and thus, lacked the ability to hear. A hearing aid gave her some comfort, but it wasn’t quite enough. In the sixth grade, Muzio underwent reconstructive surgery, which included taking cartilage from her ribs and skin from hips to form the ears she has today.
“My hearing loss is a huge part of my story and who I am,” Muzio said. “Growing up, I went to a lot of different audiologists and all of them inspired me in different ways, both positively and negatively. When I was younger, it was hard for me to describe what I was experiencing and I would get frustrated at my audiologist because I felt like I couldn’t trust them or that they didn’t know what they were doing. Looking back, I know that’s absolutely incorrect.”
With her own past experiences as a guide, Muzio hopes to work specifically in the field of pediatric audiology, either in a children’s hospital or in the educational system. Her goal is to help children and families navigate the challenging, and often times heartbreaking, world of hearing loss. She says the resources her own family received was amazing and hopes to emulate that for her own future patients and their families.
When Muzio speaks about the work of audiologists, it’s clear that she was meant to pursue this career.
“I feel like audiology can be like a puzzle and you’re trying to figure out if there is an issue and what the issue is what’s causing the problem and how to fix it,” Muzio said. “I’ve been learning in my classes this semester so many different syndromes and conditions that affect hearing loss. There’s just so much research to be done because it is a relatively new field, so being at the forefront in a very fast, changing field is very exciting.”
While in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies‘ Audiology program, Muzio was able to observe patients in the department’s Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic and was even able to shadow an audiologist who worked with her in the past. She has also completed clinical hours at Valley Children’s Hospital – a place that took care of her as a young child.
“The experience was really great,” Muzio said. “It’s really exciting for me that I get to do this kind of work soon. This is going to my future! It just really reaffirms this is what I want to do.”
Wanting to expand her knowledge and client base, Muzio will also earn a certificate in Conversational American Sign Language and Cross Cultural Competency. She chose these certificates specifically because it will allow her a broader opportunity to work with children and families of all abilities and backgrounds.
“As a person with hearing loss, Shannon has developed a deep empathy for the communication challenges that others face,” said Stephen Roberts, Muzio’s faculty adviser. “She possesses the awareness, sensitivity, and intuitive understanding of how to best support her patients and their families. Her charismatic communication style naturally invites others to comfortably engage and connect with her – a personal quality that will greatly benefit her future patients and families.”
Throughout her four years at Fresno State, Muzio has made a wonderful impact on campus, where she was an active member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, and as a student employee. She currently serves as the lead of human resources at the Gibson Farm Market, where she has been able to gain the leadership and professional skills necessary to running a business. She worked her way up the ranks, starting out as a cashier to student manager and eventually human resources manager.
Outside of campus, Muzio is equally committed to her community. To date, she has accumulated over 400 hours of community service and volunteer work for the First Presbyterian Church of Fresno, serving as the youth group director. Through that experience, she not only upholds her faith, but is given the opportunity to serve as a positive and influential role model for the middle school students she mentors. She says watching their growth is what truly motivates and inspires her to continue her service
“I’m a Christian, so my faith in God has been my biggest motivation and just knowing that I was created uniquely for a purpose and just trying to navigate what that purpose is really moves me forward,” Muzio said.
Going forward, Muzio plans to obtain her Ph.D. in Audiology or Hearing Sciences, after earning her doctorate. Her long-term goal is to ultimately work in higher education as an Audiology professor, with the hope that she can inspire college students to pursue academic excellence, just as her own professors did for her.
Shannon Muzio is a candidate for the prestigious California State University, Fresno University President’s Medal, which is the highest honor the University presents to an undergraduate student. The President’s Medalist is selected from the nine undergraduate Dean’s Medalists who represent the academic colleges and schools and the Division of Student Affairs. The awardee will be announced at the University Commencement on May 18, 2019.