A continual search for knowledge and truth

By Brenna O'Connor, '15  |  Photo Courtesy of David Alexander, '02

When David Alexander graduated from Loyola in 2002 with a degree in Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology, he was unsure of what, exactly, to do with it.

Today Alexander will tell you he believes everything happens for a reason.

His time in the Army, which began in Loyola’s ROTC program, helped pave the path for his career and ultimately led him back to Maryland, where he works as an educational audiologist and teacher at the Maryland School for the Deaf and adjunct professor in Towson University’s audiology department.

The Maryland School for the Deaf Cadet Corps at Army Basic Combat Training

Alexander attributes his professional successes to his career in the Army—and to his Loyola education.

“Loyola did a really good job of instilling in me the continual search for knowledge and truth. This was ingrained throughout my military career, too. Always try to work harder, try to work smarter, and work with others.”

After receiving his diploma from Loyola, Alexander entered into active duty for the Army. He learned to fly helicopters and served as a pilot. He lived in Germany, was deployed to Afghanistan for a time, and relocated to numerous Army bases throughout the United States.

“People tend to think of the military solely as a fighting force, but the combat aspect is just one element. There are so many different avenues to take. You can go from being a helicopter pilot to being an audiologist,” he explained, speaking from personal experience.

Alexander’s next steps presented him several compelling options: a second company command in Japan, a post in South Korea, or a teaching opportunity at the University of South Dakota.

His goals to ultimately become a teacher led him to pursue teaching military science and leadership courses in addition to the ROTC program at USD. While he was there, a professor who noted his academic background urged him to apply for the graduate audiology program.

“Everything worked out exactly the way that it was meant to,” said Alexander, who was accepted to the graduate program, entered the Army Reserves, and began to pursue his doctorate in audiology.

“Audiology is so much more than pushing a button and telling someone to raise her hand if she hears a ‘beep.’ Depending on the child, his or her age, and other factors, you have to approach things differently to elicit a response.”

Alexander also teaches the Cadet Corps program at the Maryland School for the Deaf. For the past two years, Alexander and his colleague, Keith Nolan, who designed the program three years ago, teach deaf cadets general military history, tactics, operations, navigation, and leadership skills.

David Alexander, ’02, (left) and colleague Keith Nolan have been working to change legislation to allow deaf individuals to serve in the U.S. Military.

“To our knowledge, this is the only program of its kind for a school for the deaf/hard-of-hearing—and possibly one of the few schools in the country where students start their day at 5:30 a.m. for an extra-curricular activity before they start their traditional school day,” Alexander explained.

Deaf men and women are barred from entering into the U.S. military. Nolan has long been proposing new legislation to allow deaf individuals to serve, an effort Alexander joined two years ago. (More on their efforts to pass this bill can be found here, here, and here.)

“We’ve developed signs so that the cadets can march in formation and follow orders,” he said, explaining that the cadets also engage in physical training and march in formation. Last March, the Cadet Corps went on a trip to Fort Jackson (S.C.), where they participated in boot camp and various obstacle courses. Alexander said proudly they impressed every other platoon in attendance with their basic combat training.

“I really love what I do.”

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