Local Woman Overcomes Obstacles

PANAMA CITY-- Kristen Gusmus admits she is stubborn.

But that's a good thing.

Due to a muscular disease, doctors told Kristen she'd never walk.

Others told her she'd never make it on her own.

But so far, she's proving them wrong.

If you've applied for a loan at Tyndall Federal Credit Union lately, chances are you've talked to Kristen Gusmus.

"She's got a very friendly voice, she's good on the phone with members," said Diane Floyd, TFCU Mortgage Director.

Gusmus is a very capable employee.

But the road to get there has been rather bumpy.

"I have arthrogryposis and it's a joint and muscle condition which affects my legs and my arms as well... and it also affects my mobility," said Kristen Gusmus.

Doctors performed 7 surgeries on Gusmus by the time she was two.

"Your joints and muscles are limited and mine actually weren't long enough so they had to do tendon releases and I had club feet as well. I also have Scoliosis"

Doctors told her parents she'd never walk.

"I'm very stubborn and you know when someone tells me I can't do something I'm pretty much like I'm gonna do it. I'm just determined."

That determination has paid off.

Gusmus occasionally walks with the help of braces and a walker.

"Obviously I still have to use my wheelchair for long distances."

She also drives and lives independently.

After high school Gusmus wanted to pursue a career in business, so she enlisted the help of vocational rehabilitation
"We provide services for people with disabilities to help them reach their employment goals," said Pamela Cramer, Vocational Rehab. Counselor.

"They have played a major part in my graduating college, helping me get a vehicle, helping me get things that I need to be able to live on my own."

Gusmus graduated from Florida State University Panama City in 2013 with a Business Administration Degree.

Her next goal was to land the perfect job.

"Got this job at Tyndall, actually started out in the lending center September of last year, and I moved over to the mortgage dept.

In March of this year. I Love it, Love it... couldn't be happier."

"We stay in the picture until the person has obtained employment and has successfully maintained employment for 90 days.
So Kristen's case is actually successfully closed now."

Cramer says vocational rehab helps with job placement, but Gusmus did it all on her own.