Joe Gutcher

Background information: 

Education: I graduated from CSUB in 2006 with a BA in philosophy and a minor in political science.  I went on to obtain an MS in orientation and mobility and clinical rehabilitative credential from Cal State Los Angeles in 2008.  I also have an education specialist credential in visual impairments from San Francisco State (2013).  I currently work out of the support service department of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools. I provide assessments, direct instruction, and teacher/staff training for low-vision and blind students all over Kern County; ages birth-22 years of age.  On occasion, I also provide assessment and instruction to adults in the community.

How did your experiences at CSUB help you find your first position after graduation? 

It gave me the confidence to pursue my goals without hesitation; a willingness to try, possibly fail, learn from the situation, and move on.  I was scared of failing before coming to CSUB, but left fairly confident in myself and what I had to offer.  The Philosophy Department is a pretty special group as a whole.  Of course you connect more to some professors than others, but I can honestly say that the way I view and interact with the world was influenced by every professor I had and the interactions that took place in those classes.  

What career advice would you give our students?

Volunteer, complete an internship, or have a part-time job while going to school.  You will come out much more well rounded and able to relate to the various colleagues and situations you are bound to encounter. 

How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today? Was there a pivotal moment? 

I was at a Starbucks studying for the GRE and happened to observe an individual who was blind being taught to cross the street.  I thought it was really interesting, and was surprised by all the variables involved.  It just seemed like something I would be good at, so I inquired.

What do you attribute your success to? 

The willingness to do things others were unwilling to do: the small things that might not be glamorous or alluring, but that ultimately spell the success or failure of an endeavor.  I think my family instilled in me, both directly and indirectly, the notion that talent would only take me so far if I were not hard working, humble, and disciplined. 

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization? 

By discussing problems and challenges openly and directly.  I think the study of philosophy is good for this.

What are the most important decisions that you face daily as a leader in your organization? 

How to effectively use the limited time and resources that are at my disposal.  I think there is also a tension between being objective and faithful to the science and best practices I was taught, while still remaining empathetic to the needs and concerns of the individuals and families I work with. 

What have you accomplished or overcame in the past that you thought was impossible at the time? 

My teenage and young adult years were very much a struggle.  I was a young parent, struggled in school, and made some bad life choices.  I could not get out of my own way.

Who is a person that you considered as a role model early in your life? 

My step-father and grandma always seemed larger than life when I was young. They were both accomplished and driven, and they invested time in me.

Which accomplishment are you most proud of? 

My marriage, that my children are witty and loving, and that my daughter will be graduating from college this May.

Where do you expect to be in five years both personally and professionally? 

I would like to go back to school, publish something in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, to play with my grandchild, and to consistently dominate the blackbelts when I go to the Zombie jiu-jitsu class.