University wise, Army strong

Virginia Best Bailey.

When her School of Management acceptance letter arrived, Virginia Best Bailey, AuD/MBA ’11, became the first Doctor of Audiology/MBA dual degree student at UB.

Bailey says she knew the extra work of a dual degree would be worth it, and the extra time invested would pay off in the future. What she didn’t know is where her career path would take her.

It began to take shape with her final degree requirement–an audiology externship. For that, she joined the Army and headed to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where she refined her audiology skills as a first lieutenant.

“It was an amazing experience,” says Bailey. “I feel that if someone can get through the externship program there, he or she will be able to make it anywhere.”

June 2013 marked her third year as an active duty officer. In March 2011, she was promoted to captain, and today she serves as an officer in the U.S. Army as deputy chief of the Fort Jackson Hearing Program in Columbia, South Carolina.

“I am not from a military background and honestly did not know whether or not I would like being in the Army, but I am so glad that I took a leap and just tried it,” says Bailey. “The military isn’t for everyone, but it is an amazing opportunity.”

As an audiologist, Bailey performs hearing evaluations for active duty soldiers, their families and retirees who have hearing loss and need testing or rehabilitation. Her clinic sees more than 40,000 soldiers each year, mostly new recruits in initial entry training, which prepares enlisted soldiers for the military.

But her MBA is what adds the most value in her role as an officer.

"Although audiology is a large part of what I do, I am an officer first," says Bailey. "Being an Army officer is all about leadership and making decisions, and my MBA helped me hone my leadership skills and learn more about myself and others."

She says her MBA group teamwork experience helped her learn to work with the different kinds of people she interacts with in the Army.

“In my MBA group we were all from different places, had different personalities and interests, and even opposing work habits,” says Bailey. “With all of that and more, we had to figure out how to work together successfully. I truly valued my group and now, can really appreciate our differences.”

When she’s not on post at Fort Jackson, Bailey enjoys spending time with her family–husband, Jerry, and playing outside with 1-year-old daughter, Adelyn.

In that, she offers advice to students and new graduates: enjoy the moment.

“Work hard and do whatever you desire at that moment. It can be hard to not always think about the future and plan how you are going to get to that next step, but enjoy the moment. Plan and figure out where you want to go in life, but do what you can today.”

Written by Kevin Manne