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Student Spotlight: Becca Broussard, audiology student and bone marrow donor

In the fall, Becca Broussard will begin her third year as a Doctor of Audiology student at Auburn University. Originally from Faunsdale, Alabama, she graduated from Auburn in 2018 with her BS in communication disorders. While here as an undergraduate student, Broussard signed up for Be The Match during an AU Dance Marathon. Recently, Broussard found out she could help someone who is suffering from leukemia by donating bone marrow, so she worked with her professors to take her finals early and made the trip to save a life.

“I’ve learned from this experience that many people fear what they believe a bone marrow donation will involve and think that they can’t handle the needles or the procedure. In reality, the majority of donations are completed through a non-surgical peripheral blood stem cell donation (PBSC) that filters bone marrow from your blood through needles in your arms. It is comparable to donating blood, except that it takes place over a longer time span,” Broussard explained.

Learn more about Broussard’s background, her ultimate goals as an audiologist, and her experience as a bone marrow donor.

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I am from Faunsdale, Alabama, which is located in west Alabama’s Black Belt region. I graduated from Auburn in 2018 with a BS in communication disorders. I am currently in Auburn’s Doctor of Audiology program. Because I am from a rural area, I have seen the health and racial disparities that affect the Black Belt’s residents. The research I'm working on currently involves surveying access to hearing healthcare in this region. Outside of classes, I enjoy spending time with my sister, Sue, going to coffee shops, thrift shopping, and cooking Ina Garten and Pioneer Woman recipes.


How have your experiences at Auburn impacted your view of service?
I feel like Auburn as a whole is really service-oriented. The Big Event, AU Dance Marathon (AUDM), Best Buddies, and so many others showed me during my time in undergrad that students willingly wanted to give their time and energy to the Auburn community. It’s inspiring to me that the same enthusiasm for service has and will be spread all over our country once these students graduate. In the classroom, when I mentioned my interest in pursuing research and service in my hometown, I was met with nothing but encouragement. In the same manner, when I told my classmates and professors that I was a match for a person needing a bone marrow transplant, complete support was given.

How did you first learn about Be The Match?
I signed up for Be the Match at AUDM four years ago. There was a student from Auburn at the event who had given bone marrow to someone overseas after joining the registry, so I thought, “Why not me?” All it took was some simple paperwork and swabbing my mouth with a Q-tip to join the registry. I never imagined it would turn into anything, but I am so glad it did.

When did you find out that you were a match? Would you tell us a little about what that process and timeline looked like?
I found out I was a match for an adult overseas with leukemia in January 2021. My first reaction was some anxiety, as many uncertainties were ahead of me. The donation happened to be scheduled when I was supposed to be taking finals (in April), which made me weary of how that would work. I expressed these concerns from the beginning to my professors, and like I said earlier, they gave me nothing but reassurance that we would figure everything out. I ended up taking the majority of my finals early, and went to Boca Raton, Florida with my mom at the end of April for the donation. Everything for donors and their travel companion is paid for by Be the Match—flights, mileage, hotel, meals, etc. Gift of Life donation center was beautiful; the staff were as sweet as they could be; and the donation process was truly a breeze. I was hooked up to an aphaeresis machine (similar to one used for plasma donation at blood drives) for seven hours, but I got to watch Netflix and Disney Plus the whole time. I’ll also add that they brought us lunch from Cheesecake Factory and snacks throughout the day. The fear I had surrounding the donation was alleviated once I got there, and I would do it again without hesitation.

If someone is interested in registering as a potential match, how could they find out more about Be The Match? What words of encouragement would you share with someone thinking about this opportunity?
I’ve learned from this experience that many people fear what they believe a bone marrow donation will involve and think that they can’t handle the needles or the procedure. In reality, the majority of donations are completed through a non-surgical peripheral blood stem cell donation (PBSC) that filters bone marrow from your blood through needles in your arms. It is comparable to donating blood, except that it takes place over a longer time span. Also, every measure is taken to ensure your safety and comfort during the process. Short and long-term effects are minimal (if any) for donors, and you typically feel back to normal within a week. When I looked at the big picture, one day of my life is (hopefully) going to give my recipient many more days on this earth. I love the quote, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away,” from It’s a Wonderful Life. “Giving away” some of my healthy, renewable bone marrow has given my life more purpose than I can put into words.

What are your plans after you graduate?
I hope to work as a clinical audiologist somewhere in West Alabama after I graduate in May of 2023. A goal of mine is to serve areas of the Black Belt through audiological services. The fact of the matter is that residents of this area do not receive the same services as those in urban areas. Black Belt residents deserve the same access to hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices, no matter their socioeconomic status or distance from services.


{Be The Match is operated by the National Donor Marrow Program and is the largest marrow registry in the world. https://bethematch.org}

Tags: Students Community and Outreach Alumni Speech Language and Hearing Sciences

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