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Digging Deep for Success Journey to Commencement: UM volleyball star Caroline Adams to pursue audiology clinical specialty

This story is part of the "Journey to Commencement" series that highlights University of Mississippi students and their academic and personal journeys from college student to college graduate.

You might know Caroline Adams as the University of Mississippi women's volleyball star who broke the single-season digs record at the National Invitational Volleyball Championship last year.

Or perhaps you recognize this young libero as one of six students from the School of Applied Sciences who recently was honored with a Taylor Medal, the university's highest academic award.

Faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders recognize Adams as a distinguished May 2019 graduate and a future professional audiologist.

"I completed a four-week internship at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford during the summer going into my junior year," Adams said. "After that, I went home to Lafayette, Louisiana, for two weeks before returning to Oxford.

"During those two weeks, I was able to shadow an audiologist for a day. The speech-language pathologist I worked for at Baptist Memorial Hospital knew an audiologist in Louisiana that she set me up with, and that's when I was introduced to the field. My junior year was the first time I took an audiology class, and it all fell into place."

Caroline Adams has seen success on and off the volleyball court. She set the broke the single-season digs record and was awarded a Taylor Medal, the university's highest academic award.

Adams finished her degree requirements early and is working under the supervision of audiologist Elena Treadway at Noel and Hanby ENT in her Louisiana hometown until graduation. She loves working with older adults in a clinical audiology setting.

"I really like the older people when they come in," said Adams, flashing an infectious smile. "They are fun to talk to and interact with. It's fun to help them hear things they weren't able to before.

"I'm working now with an audiologist, and we get so many people who get so emotional about hearing sounds, like their grandkid's voices. It's really rewarding."

When asked how she balanced it all – an incredibly rigorous degree program; intercollegiate athletics; and events and meetings for the UM Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and Hand Band, the American Sign Language Club – she explained that it is all about communication.

"It definitely took a lot of communication between my teachers and coaches, but you have to be dedicated and a hard worker," Adams said. "I just put 110 percent into everything. There were times I missed every Thursday and Friday, but I just stayed ahead in my work and really worked on communication with my teachers."

Adams plans to attend the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas this fall to begin the four-year clinical doctoral program in audiology. She credits Greg Snyder, UM associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, for his continued support and introduction to research that ushered her into graduate studies.

"He's been the most helpful and most supportive of me," she explained. "I worked on research with him. We did a lot of stuttering research. We also looked at how Tylenol affects cognitive dissonance. It not only affects physical pain but also emotional pain, so we looked at the drug's effects in that capacity."

Snyder wrote Adams a glowing nomination letter for a Taylor Medal. In that letter, he recognized Adams for demonstrating academic excellence expected in students who would surely be among nominees for the award but continued to explain what differentiates her from other candidates:

"In short, even with the rigors of being a star, record-holding student athlete – and all the time, energy and attention sacrifices therein – Caroline consistently ran circles around even the highest performing academic peers, as she is significantly better at leveraging her emotional and cognitive intelligence due to her disciplined, intentional and organized mindfulness, time management and task execution."

Adams had an army of supporters during her time at Ole Miss, including her parents, Ricky, who earned a bachelor's degree in finance from UM in 1994, and Carla Adams, who earned a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1995; women's volleyball coach Steven McRoberts; and John Nance, assistant director of athletics academic operations.

In fact, the list of supporters goes on so long that Adams created a video at the end of her last volleyball season to thank the laundry list of people, including all her teammates, who helped her along the way.

Story by Sarah Sapp/School of Applied Sciences

Photos and video by Ole Miss Athletics

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