A Story of Determination

Kathryn Hurd smiles in a candid photo while preparing her Mexican-inspired meal.

Kathryn was born in China, totally blind. She found herself in an orphanage at age eight and at 12 was adopted by an American family living in Missouri. She was in a new country with a new family and knew absolutely no English.

"I was enrolled in sixth grade without ever having any 'proper' educational experience. I had an interpreter and was determined to learn braille but often found myself in classes with low-functioning students and received minimal educational instruction," she explained.

The following year, her adoptive parents enrolled her in a school for the blind in St. Louis, where Kathryn finally found a community of people like her. She excelled in her studies and participated in track and field, swimming, cheerleading, and goalball – even traveling out of state to play.

After graduating high school, her family moved to Austin, Texas where she went to a community college while working part-time to receive her associate degree. She then enrolled in Texas State University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in early childhood development.

During this time, she met her fiancĂ©, Jordan, who is legally blind, although his vision is considered "high-functional." He has a good job with Subaru in Lafayette, Indiana and they decided Kathryn should relocate there to continue her education.

Before moving, her father encouraged her to work on her cooking and homemaking skills so she could be a helpful, contributing partner in their marriage. Although she had lived alone before, she didn't cook much and was not comfortable in the kitchen.

Kathryn's vocational rehabilitation counselor in Lafayette suggested Bosma. She had attended two similar centers in Colorado and Texas but knew her father's advice was sound. She took the next steps and soon entered Bosma’s Vocational Rehab program.

"Bosma is somewhat similar to the other centers I attended regarding the skills they teach, but they give their clients much more individual and small group attention. I came into the program knowing braille and O&M, but I needed to brush up on my household and computer (MAC) skills."

"The instructors are patient and encouraging. They work with you where you are in your journey and individualize the programs according to your needs. You also get a great sense of community with the other clients. I loved my experience there,” Kathryn said.

Bosma taught Kathryn how to navigate a kitchen with "buttons" to label appliances, and techniques for labeling, organizing, and storing food. She even learned knife skills.

Before completing the program, I had to plan, cook, and serve a full-course meal for my family. My menu was Mexican soup, fajitas, Spanish rice, and a Mexican dessert in honor of my father's Hispanic ancestry. The meal went really well!” she said.

When asked if she now liked to cook, Kathryn laughed. “Well, let’s say I learned not to hate it!” she said.

Kathryn's future is bright. She's in a new home, planning her wedding, and starting Purdue University this fall where she is determined to complete her bachelor’s and move on to get her master's degree.

"My goal is to help young children get a better start with their education than I did,” Kathryn said.