Always in Service to Others

At every stage of his life, David Alexander has dedicated himself to supporting others — and he credits his CCCs for helping him on that journey.

David Alexander’s life and career can be defined by one word: Service. Whether it’s for his country, his students, his patients, or those close to him, David has had this calling: “I’ve just always felt a sense of service,” he says.

When David looks at his current job in private practice at Virginia Head and Neck Surgeons in Leesburg, Virginia or his previous roles, he attributes so much of what he does — and how he goes about it — to the shared values between his personal life outlook as well as having his CCCs; “Having my CCCs has been instrumental in my career so far,” he says. As a result, he has had career dedicated to helping others, striving to improve and being the best he can be while carrying an open mind and humility.

Inspired by his father, who was a sergeant, David decided in high school that he wanted to serve in the military and signed up for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He simultaneously fulfilled his personal goal of being a first-generation college student by enrolling in Loyola University Maryland. Shortly thereafter, while flipping through an academic catalogue, he came across “Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.”

“I had never heard of those professions, but they seemed medically related. I thought they sounded interesting — and audiology became my major,” he says.

Upon graduation, his years of preparation in ROTC manifested into a new role of flying Army helicopters, putting his audiology pursuits aside from the time being. For 12 years, from 2002 to 2014, in both Active and Reserve Duty, David served his country, an experience that included deployment to Afghanistan.

At one point during his service, David was assigned to a new position teaching ROTC classes and recruiting new students to the program at the University of South Dakota. One day, while recruiting in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, a professor learned of his major and encouraged him to revisit audiology and pursue a doctorate. She also invited David to observe a clinical session on cochlear implant mapping. He was fascinated in the field all over again and enrolled in the audiology program at the school, returning to this chapter in his life anew. As his studies unfolded, he learned about ASHA’s Minority Student Leadership Program, which he says “opened my eyes” to the benefits of being ASHA-certified.

“It wasn’t even a second thought that I’d get my CCCs once I graduated,” he says.

Not only has David gained various leadership techniques and experience through his involvement, he’s also been able to expand his network. His CCCs provided him “the power of connection and the ability to connect with different professionals for advice.”

“Whether I have a question or a need, I’m learning from people who are literally across the country,” David says.

After graduating, he put these discoveries to use at his first job at Maryland School of the Deaf. Keith Nolan, a government and history teacher at the school who was deaf, sought out David and shared his story about being unable to enlist in the military because of his condition. Keith explained how he had been advocating to make the military more inclusive ever since, including starting a program at the school called the Cadet Corps; the program had a military-style structure and focused on leadership development, and was conducted entirely in American Sign Language. Keith wanted to see how David could help and began to share results of his research, which included the fact that the Israeli Defense Force allows the deaf to serve.

“When I learned that,” David says, “I realized that obviously the door needs to be opened more widely to deaf people and wondered, ‘How can I help that happen?’”

Drawing on his background as an audiologist, a veteran, and a minority, David aided Keith in his mission, including serving as an instructor in the Cadet Corps and using his ASHA leadership communication training to advocate for Keith with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Now, in his current role as a pediatric audiologist at Virginia Head and Neck Surgeons, he continues to devote himself to living up to the highest professional standards and helping those in need. “I don’t take any shortcuts,” David says. “The patient gets quality care, and I continue to practice at the top of my license.”

“The success I’ve had is due in no small part to the support I’ve had,” he adds. “The education and training I’ve received earning my CCCs has been a leading source of that support.”