Inspiring Graduate Jade Krol, B.S. Special Education

'UW-Stout has given me so many opportunities to connect with other educators.'
January 17, 2023

Inspiring Graduate: Jade Krol (’22)

After working full time in a school district as a special education paraprofessional while taking 18 credits a semester, nontraditional student Jade Krol graduated with her online bachelor’s in special education on Dec. 17. She plans to work with the Waunakee School District.

"UW-Stout prides itself on being a polytechnic university that is very strong in the applied learning sector,” Krol said. “UW-Stout has given me so many opportunities to connect with other educators and allowed me to not only learn but train for my career and solve real-world problems."

Krol acknowledged her peers’ perseverance, knowing that “a college education is a tough mountain to climb, but it's a whole other battle throwing in a coronavirus pandemic. We continued to persevere in our studies here at UW-Stout. Each one of us has shown incredible resilience, an ability to flourish under pressure, and we have built and strengthened our empathy muscle which will take us far into our careers.

She credited the special education program for helping her deepen her qualities of empathy, compassion and awareness, which will help her serve her students in their education.

Jade Krol crosses the commencement stage on Dec. 17.
Jade Krol crosses the commencement stage on Dec. 17. / UW-Stout

How has Stout prepared you to work in your field?

Stout’s School of Education has done a phenomenal job preparing me to work in the field. Not only have I had many opportunities in the field, but my professors and adviser were willing to talk with me regarding my job as a special education paraprofessional and help me understand how I could apply my learning to the job. A lot of them went the extra mile.

My professor for student teaching, Jackie Giedd, was nothing short of amazing. She dedicated so much time and concern to me and was there for me if I needed her. When observing me, she often stayed after the short lesson to talk to me, make sure things were going OK and ask where she could support me. Without her support, I don’t think I would have been able to get through the challenging few months of student teaching. I’m proud of Stout for hiring some exceptional professors that are so in tune with students’ needs.

I appreciated the realness of my professors.

Jackie was extremely real with me regarding the situations I will encounter in the field. Regardless of the fact I was working in a school district throughout my college career, I think it’s necessary to still be real with students regarding careers in education. It takes a certain type of person to be in education, and I believe there needs to be an understanding for every person when going for an education degree.

How has your Stout education and experience changed you?

My time at Stout has done wonderful things for me. Not only did my professors teach me vital things that will take me far into my career, but they have taught me how to think. I have learned discipline, especially being a distance student, and strengthened my ability to work on a team.

I also learned self-care. I know that’s an odd quality to learn in education considering we’re doing everything we can to finish our degree. However, my adviser Rebecca Marine really stressed to me how important self-care is and will be in my lifetime because of the career I have chosen. Her words always rang true for me, and I will forever be thankful.

What stands out about your Stout experience?

Along with Jackie Giedd, a few names come to mind when I think about my Stout experience. Professor Rebecca Marine was fantastic. One of my favorite memories of her was in the first class I took with her. Our assignment was to organize our four-year education by classes. I was not only terrified but confused. No matter how many times I called or emailed, she never became upset with me and continued to work with me.

Special education Professors Grant Allen and Daniel Paulson gave me the opportunity to think for myself, rather than specifically sticking to the assignments, which in turn gave me the opportunity to give my classmates a different perspective on the field of education. I really appreciated the strong focus on metacognition, as I feel that's what a college education should be.

Each of my professors welcomed my professional experience into my learning and applauded me for applying my previous knowledge to new knowledge.

My chemistry Professor Ana Magdalena Vande Linde dedicated so much time and effort to me in chemistry class because I struggled a lot and needed extra support.

How did your involvement at Stout impact your experience?

I want to mention my affiliation with Phi Upsilon Omicron. I became a part of this national honor society in my second year at Stout. I was so honored because I do take my education, career and grades seriously.

Not only did they recognize my hard work, but the organization has also given me education regarding professionalism in my career and it has shown me the benefit of volunteering through many opportunities.

I want to shine a light on my work with the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership three-day conference in New Jersey. I was given this opportunity during COVID by Phi Upsilon. Even though the conference was online, I still took so much away from it. The students that were invited were high-achieving middle schoolers who were asked to participate in team-building activities and to foreshadow their personal lives and careers. The way these students worked together was phenomenal, and hearing about their personal goals was amazing. I was so honored to attend.

How did you overcome the challenges you faced in earning your degree?

I wanted nothing more than to finish my degree as quickly as possible and get set in my career, so I took 18 credits every semester while holding a full-time job. Looking back, I can see how insane it was because of how much I pushed myself. I’m not quite sure how I did it, and if you asked me to do it again, I probably could but I would kindly decline. That experience was not the definition of self-care, but it did teach me discipline and organization.

What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?

As I finish my degree, I reflect on my entrance into college, and I’m very proud of that story. My dad passed away when I was 22. He was a veteran of the Armed Forces and Air Force. He was deployed to Vietnam and because of his time spent there, he had been subject to Agent Orange which is what caused his death. Although it’s in the list of diseases, I had to open a lawsuit for three years to prove through research that the specific chemical, benzene, caused his acute myeloid leukemia.

Throughout this work, I knew that I wasn’t going to be granted the death compensation because I was over 18, but I was going to be able to get a portion of my education paid for. It was extremely important to me to be able to go to school for education, and I will forever cherish that story.

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