Student Spotlight: Mackenzie Kirkman

Posted on February 8, 2023 by CAHP

Student Spotlight: Mackenzie Kirkman data-lightbox='featured'

With Florence, Alabama as her hometown, Mackenzie Kirkman came to the University of South Alabama with a goal of making new friends and expanding her love for audiology.

Mackenzie based her decision to come to South on the diversity and size of campus, as well as the close proximity to the beach. Mackenzie began exploring audiology in high school when she interned with a speech-language pathology and audiology program that allowed her to shadow a clinical professional. Her love for it all led her to her major, speech and hearing sciences. However, this journey was not an easy one.

Starting college online in 2020 was a different experience than expected and quickly came to a halt when she faced health issues that caused her to take time off. A delayed diagnosis of COVID-19 and additional health complications caused her to miss school for a year. She experienced severe brain swelling, seizures, heart failure and even had to relearn how to walk, a process that took six months.

After many months of recovery and getting back on track, Mackenzie is determined to not let this define her or slow her down. She made her return back to campus during the spring semester of 2023. Being on campus was essential to Mackenzie’s student lifestyle as she wanted to be able to get the full college experience despite her parent’s being weary of her leaving home after being sick for so long.

“My major is only offered at so many colleges in Alabama and it wasn’t offered in my hometown, so I was just preparing my options. So, I was like, ‘South is literally the perfect option.’ Plus, the beach? Yeah, absolutely!” Mackenzie stated.

With this being Mackenzie’s first semester back on campus after a year, she is looking forward to all the events that South has to offer and plans to make the most of her time while she is here. She is eager to complete her undergraduate degree and continue directly into graduate school in hopes of working with the audiology program at South in the future.

While Mackenzie’s college experience so far has not been a typical one, she continues to share her story with a smile on her face, thankful to have made it where she is today.

“I have heard that many people wouldn't have even attempted to continue school, especially not so soon after, but me, I have a positive view and smile about it because of the great people that I got to meet through the process such as my nurses, physical therapists, techs and doctors,” she said.

Having an aunt who works at a physical rehabilitation center and is a close mentor in her life has allowed Mackenzie to meet many healthcare professionals that solidified her dream of becoming an audiologist. A sense of community is important to Mackenzie because of the connections she made while in recovery and is something she hopes to continue to find within her campus life.

“There was this point where I didn’t think I’d get to come back at all, so I’m happy to be back here on this campus. My parents didn't want me to come back, being so far away from them leaves a lot of room for worry and I was just like, ‘I’ve got to, I’ve got to get back into the swing of things. I’ve got to get back to normal,’” she shared.

Mackenzie has an interest in many on-campus activities and organizations and is looking forward to the upcoming football season the most. Finding time for classes on top of establishing a steady routine while being a student on campus for the first time can be a challenge in itself, but for Mackenzie, she couldn’t be more excited to take on new challenges and opportunities at South.

The Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology offers a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing sciences for students across the University community with an interest in learning about communication sciences and disorders. To learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Sciences program contact the Allied Health Advising Office.

What is a fun fact about yourself?
“I can get along with anybody. LITERALLY anybody, I was friends with so many different types of people in high school. I’m a very diverse person myself.”

What is your best advice for incoming freshmen?
“Talk to as many people as you can! Talk to the people around you because they’re literally who you’re going to be with. Don’t try to put yourself out there too much though, just try to find that balance.”

What mantra/motto inspires you each day?
“There’s a trend on TikTok where people repeat ‘I’m so lucky everything works out for me!’ so I’ve started saying that and honestly, things are working out for me! It’s like a state of mind, really.”

What do you like to do outside of class and studying?
“The beach is always the move to go! The beach is about six and a half hours down I-65 from my hometown with minimal stops. It used to be the summer spot to go, but now me and my friends go any chance we get.”

What has been your favorite class so far?
“My SHS culturally responsive class has definitely been my favorite so far. I love Dr. Beverly, she is awesome! I’m looking forward to seeing the different debates and discussions that we’re going to have in there and what all we can learn from it.”


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