The Speech and Hearing Clinic, housed in the Mary Frances Early College of Education, helps students and the community tackle some of the toughest communication challenges. From hearing evaluations to speech-language therapy, the clinic helps people of all ages build effective communication.
Amber Laws is one of the people who makes that possible.
Laws serves as the office manager for the clinic and is responsible for daily operations, off-campus internships, marketing and community outreach and is licensed as an audiologist assistant.
“I was hired to be the department secretary, so answering the phones, doing the mail, things like that. And then through some staffing changes in the clinic, they asked me if I would come here to answer the phone,” she said.
That was more than 14 years ago.
What started as an office job has changed to something Laws is passionate about—helping others communicate better.
“Several years ago, I expressed interest in learning more about audiology,” she said. “The audiologists who were here thought it would be an important role that I could help fill and also limit the amount of time that patients were waiting for care.”
Outside of her regular duties, Laws completed coursework and training to become an audiologist assistant and help the clinical faculty in the sound booth. Laws said she became interested in learning more about the field through client interactions.
“Just having an initial conversation with a patient who’s having a hard time with you on the phone, then seeing the transition,” she said. “Now they’re checking out and purchasing hearing aids, and they say, ‘you’re yelling at me!’ Prior to having those devices I had to raise my voice.”
The certification allows Laws to work with clients in a more personal way, interacting with them while they are going through consultations or evaluations.
“What I enjoy the most is working with children in the booth. It’s like playing with them and they don’t realize that we’re testing their hearing, so that’s fun,” she said.
Soon, Laws will be taking on a new role as the business manager at the clinic. Laws’ new position will be a shift toward administrative duties such as “managing purchases and processing insurance claims, and applying the payments to patient accounts, keeping up with [the] budget and payroll.”
While she won’t get as much time in the sound booth, Laws finds other ways to help her community.
Through her church, Laws helps spread the word about community needs. One way they give back is through Faith in Serving Humanity, an organization with a thrift store and food pantry for low-income community members. She said often people donate canned foods, but never any can openers, so by sharing the needs of the homeless community, her fellow church members can provide what is needed most.
“We’re getting out into the community and doing different things to offer support,” she said. “I let our congregation know there is a need, and we can work together.”
An Oconee County native, Laws now lives in Monroe with her husband and children and spends much of her free time at the soccer field where her son is in his third season and her daughter just started her first season.