On December 10, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2020 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize individuals who are making a bold difference right here in the Central Valley. We will highlight the nine honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.


Name: Laurynn Smith

Occupation: Educational Audiologist, Fresno Unified School District

Nominated by: Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies

A desire to help others has been ingrained in Dr. Laurynn Smith’s life from a young age.

With an interest in both biology and technology, Smith found that audiology, especially the technology of cochlear implants, was the perfect career for her. Now, as a pediatric and educational audiologist, she is considered to be the community expert in cochlear implants. 

“Dr. Smith exemplifies the qualities of respect and dignity, information sharing, participation, and interprofessional collaboration that the family-centered care approach embodies,” said Dr. Stephen Roberts, an associate professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies (CSDS). 

After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in audiology from Fresno State and her doctorate from AT Still University, Smith realized her dream of being a pediatric audiologist when she began working at Valley Children’s Healthcare. There, she helped diagnose and fit infants with digital hearing aids, and she expanded a program created by CSDS faculty member Dr. Cynthia Cavazos, which offers services for families whose children have received cochlear implants outside of the area so that they would not need to travel to have their child’s implant fixed.

Smith not only stays connected with faculty within the CSDS department, but its students as well, by occasionally guest-lecturing and offering job shadowing for students interested in audiology. She also enjoys working as a clinic supervisor at the CSDS Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic, and says she is always impressed with the level of professionalism from the graduate students.

While she still works part time at Valley Children’s, Smith is now an educational audiologist with Fresno Unified School District. She serves Deaf and hard of hearing children across the district, fitting and managing hearing assistance technology, providing support services and resources, and advocating on behalf of students and their families. 

“I have had the joy of seeing people whose hearing loss I diagnosed shortly after they were born go on to graduate high school, begin working or even go on to college,” Smith said. “Nothing gives me more joy than to see those students achieving their dreams.”

The 2020 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held virtually this year. To register, visit bit.ly/CHHS-Heroes2020. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.