Our Pathology and Audiology Specialist MEET CHERI! I always wanted to help kids, particularly those in need. Some children don’t have all the resources to excel that others do. It took me a while to find where I could make the biggest difference, but when I knew, I knew. Every journey needs to start somewhere, and mine started in South Carolina. I grew up in a small town there called Florence. I went to private school in a small community, and it was a pretty normal childhood. Throughout high school, I was active and involved at church and school. I played volleyball, softball, and was even a cheerleader. After high school, I stayed in South Carolina to attend Columbia College. It was a small women’s college with only 1,800 students at the time, and I loved the personalized experience and unique opportunities the school provided me. I always had an interest in speech pathology, so when I realized they had a speech pathology program, I knew it was going to be a great fit. A lot of colleges offer that program now, but it was rare to find one at such a prestigious university. During that time, I discovered my passion for audiology as well. I took an internship teaching children with hearing impairments. They were so young, often preschoolers, but their perseverance could teach us all something. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to provide therapy and see how far they came within just a short amount of time. I knew I had found a means to help children in need. This new direction for my career couldn’t have come at a better time as it was my last semester at Columbia College. After I graduated with my bachelor’s in speech pathology, I went to the University of Tennessee for my master’s degree in audiology. Due to UT’s focus on the medical field, internships came pretty easily as I honed my treatment skills. They have their own speech and hearing center, so most of the internships centered around the clinic. One particular internship I had, however, made a critical difference in how I treat patients.
I had an internship at Child Hearing Services, which provides hearing assistance to children of all ages. I primarily
worked with preschool and school-aged children. It was a very unique experience because I had the opportunity to work with children with all different types of hearing loss, symptoms, and disorders. I loved working with those kids and making their lives at least a little bit better!
The director of Child Hearing Services was such a wonderful person to watch and learn from. She was an audiologist and speech pathologist, so she had experience in both areas I studied. She taught me several different therapy and testing techniques, which was invaluable. A lot of times with little kids, you only have five minutes to get what you can, so every second is critical. After my fellowship year, life took my husband and me on an assortment of adventures, but we settled here in Tennessee. I love the stability of the work I’m able to do as I have a wonderful work-life balance. I love the small-town feel and the connectivity among everyone in the office. Outside of work, my two girls keep me busy with activities! My youngest daughter is 8 and rides horses while my older daughter does theater. My husband and I love to travel —we’ve been to England, Scotland, Greece, and France, and we’re planning a trip to Costa Rica! All in all, I’m so grateful to Smoky Mountain for their commitment to the community. Thanks to Smoky Mountain, I’m able to help those in need just as that little girl in South Carolina always wanted. —Cheri Ramsey
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