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US Navy to commission Ohio State alumnus as lieutenant, audiologist

Dr. Richard Harper (right) congratulates OSU alumnus Kyle Shepard for being selected to be commissioned into the US Navy at a ceremony June 24 at Cleveland Clinic.

Courtesy of Jamie DePould of Cleveland Clinic

An Ohio State alumnus is set to become a U.S. Navy audiologist this fall, but he said he plans to return to Columbus someday.

Kyle Shephard, who graduated from OSU in 2009 with a bachelor of arts degree in speech and hearing science and psychology, was recognized June 24 for his new position as a U.S. Navy audiologist at a ceremony at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Shephard was hand-picked for commission as a Naval lieutenant specializing in audiology. One or two audiologist positions are filled each year following a highly competitive, eight-month long process.

Shephard attended the Doctor of Audiology program at the Northeast Ohio Au.D. Consortium, a partnership between University of Akron, Kent State University and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, after graduating from OSU.

He is due to graduate with his Au.D. on Aug. 17. He is set to report to Officer Development School in Newport, R.I., on Sept. 15 for five weeks of indoctrination at Officer Training Command Newport.

Upon successful completion of the training, Shephard will be directly commissioned as an active duty restricted lieutenant in the Navy’s Medical Corps.

“I was always interested in the military route, ever since high school,” Shephard said in an interview with The Lantern.

Shephard said that Dr. Richard Harper, a 31-year veteran and retired Navy captain, and Lt. Jessica Snyder, who graduated from the NOAC Au.D. program two years ago, both guided him toward the Navy when he was considering careers with the Air Force or as a civilian audiology contractor.

Others who inspired Shephard are OSU professors.

Jan Weisenberger, Ph.D., a professor at OSU’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science, was both a professor of anatomy and physiology and an adviser to Shepard as he researched and composed his honors thesis.

Weisenberger said Shephard was a dedicated student.

“Kyle is the ideal student, the kind you dream of having. It was a pleasure to play a small part in what he has gone on to become, and what he will do going forward. I’m very proud of Kyle and all of his accomplishments,” Weisenberger said in an email.

Shephard also worked alongside psychologist Sharla Wells-Di Gregorio, Ph.D., for three years in the Pain and Palliative Medicine unit of the James, OSU’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. He credits her as the person who got him interested in research early.

In a letter of recommendation for Shephard that Wells provided to The Lantern, she said Shephard “frequently sought out new work projects and was indispensable to getting our research program off the ground. Kyle is a hard worker, a problem solver, and I’m grateful to have gotten to work with him. I know he will be an asset as a Navy Officer.”

Shephard said he has a particular interest in the specialty of vestibular audiology, which deals with the testing, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with balance problems. He said balance issues are sometimes associated with exposure to explosive blasts that cause damage to the inner ear.

While Shephard is set to report for duty at Camp Lejeune, N.C., as a newly minted junior officer later this year, the Troy, Ohio native said that doesn’t change his mind about where home is.

“Ohio State and Columbus will always be my home,” Shephard said. “I see myself coming back one day.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:
Correction: July 1, 2013
An earlier version of this story stated that Dr. Richard Harper is a 31-year-old veteran. In fact, he is a 31-year veteran.  

An earlier version also had Kyle Shephard’s name spelled as Shepard, when in fact, the spelling is Shephard.

The headline of an earlier version of this story stated that the US Navy had commissioned Shephard, when in fact, he has not been commissioned yet.

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