“Guadalupe is a strong self-advocate with a quiet voice and always a cheerful smile!”
Su Nelson, Edmonds Community College
By Jennifer Ferrero, APR
Guadalupe Krootzko has always been a motivated worker. Although she has had a lifelong hearing disability, she has worked in banking, insurance, photography, and accounting to earn a living – sometimes with two jobs at a time, and a family. Now, later in life and following a degree in Manufacturing and Materials Science from Edmonds Community College, she is finally doing work that she wants to do in the manufacturing industry in Washington.
As a child in Los Angeles, Guadalupe grew up unaware that she had hearing loss in both ears, with one more severe than the other. In elementary she had to take speech therapy and that is where she learned to read lips and relied heavily on her vision to learn. However, she said that due to stigma, her mom didn’t want to enroll her in a special hearing program. Guadalupe went through years of school only hearing out of one ear. Back then, there was discrimination by teachers around students with disabilities. However, at some point she did see an audiologist who told her that she needed hearing aids.
Unfortunately, the cost was beyond her reach.
She endured 27 years of hearing loss. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DSHS) made it possible for her to get hearing aids, but with a five-year delay. Finally, in 2007, she was hearing new sounds for the first time.
After high school, she enrolled in college at Los Angeles City College in 1980. She did not complete her degree there, but instead went to work. She began work as a night auditor in a bank reconciling accounts. She worked in the insurance industry as an adjustor processing checks and balancing accounts.
At that point she was living in Texas, and the division of Transamerica Insurance, hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, closed their division. She went to work for International Christian University in Fort Worth in student service relations, and later at the corporate office of Michael’s Arts and Crafts.
As she moved to the Northwest, she worked for Lifetouch photography, while also serving as a caregiver.
Finally, when her son graduated from high school she said, “It’s my turn.”
When Guadalupe had been in high school, she had taken an aptitude test. Even though she had developed her skills and had careers in many industries, she went back to that original skills assessment which had told her that she should work with her hands, and pursue manufacturing and/or engineering.
With a desire to finally make her career into a passion, she went to Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, WA to talk to them about manufacturing.
Enrolling in Engineering Technology, she was filled with excitement for her future. She loved the class in Flammability, and graduated in June 2017 with an Associates in Technical Arts in Manufacturing and Materials Science.
Su Nelson, Outreach, Recruitment and Operations Manager at Edmonds Community College, said that when Guadalupe began checking into the program, she asked if there was an opportunity for support for her hearing disability. Nelson said, “Working closely with our Services for Students with Disabilities office, she signed up and arranged for accommodations. As her hearing was very limited she depended upon instructors facing her, so she could supplement her hearing with lip reading. The college quickly arranged to add TDD to our teaching videos; she also used a note taker and a recording smart pen as classroom support.”
Guadalupe feels that things have come a long way in support for people with disabilities. She is looking forward to pursuing an engineering degree, and keeps dreaming about her future.
Nelson said, “Guadalupe is a strong self-advocate with a quiet voice and always a cheerful smile! It was wonderful to see her bloom and grow throughout her time in our Manufacturing and Materials Science program.”
Better late than never, Guadalupe has fulfilled her dreams and is working at Western Systems who provides transportation solutions.