Deaf teen working on second college degree before graduating high school

Kate Croteau is 17 years old, is mostly deaf in one ear and only has partial hearing in the other

GALION, OH (WCMH) – It’s graduation season and while many students may just be receiving one diploma at a time, we’ve met one teenager who will have three by the end of the summer.

Kate Croteau is 17 years old, is mostly deaf in one ear and only has partial hearing in the other ear. She already has an associate’s degree in psychology and is working on getting another one at North Central State College. This is all happening before she’s had her high school graduation ceremony.

“I was bored in my high school classes,” says Kate. “It’s not that they were bad classes or I didn’t want to be there, but it was just kind of like ‘I already know this.’”

When she was 14, Kate started taking college and high school courses simultaneously in a virtual classroom.

“I completed about two or three months worth of that class in a weekend,” she says.

The college courses were paid for through her public education, meaning there was no additional cost to her family.

“We are very proud of her,” says Kate’s mother Helene Croteau. “It was never ‘You can’t do it,’ it was ‘You will do. You can do so you will do.’”

Kate is also a mostly self-taught musician. She’s also received her gold award in Girl Scouts and is a salutatorian for the Ohio Connections Academy Class of 2016.

“I think one of my favorite phrases when I got into the deaf community was ‘We can do everything a hearing person can do, except hear,’” says Kate.

She says being deaf was never an obstacle she had to overcome. It’s simply a part of her identity.

But, it’s inspired what she wants to do with the rest of her life; becoming a speech pathologist.

“I did not have a speech pathologist growing up. I didn’t have a speech therapist. My parents took care of everything and they did really, really well,” says Kate. “I want to work with children like myself who just didn’t have the benefit of what my mom did with me and sat me down.”

Kate plans on attending Kent State University, majoring in speech pathology and minoring in deaf education.

She has also started her own club called “Hands Held High.” It’s for anyone on the North Central or OSU campuses who are interested in deaf culture.

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