Just in case you want to know a little bit more about me, I'll mention some of my background. My maiden name is Karoline Braddock Stradtmann - they call me Karol (Braddock was my father's last name and Stradtmann is my mother's); that's how names are given in Latin America. I was raised there (in Barranquilla, Colombia and in San José, Costa Rica). I was born in Costa Rica in February 18, 1957. My father was of English, Scottish, Italian and Spanish descent and my mother is of German and Spanish descent. I lived 13 years in Colombia, 13 years in Costa Rica and have lived in the USA more than 22 years.
My father used to work in KLM (the Dutch Airlines) as the airport's Station Manager and was transferred from Costa Rica to Colombia back in 1961 - I was 4 years old then and the oldest. At that time my parents had two children (my brother George and me). In Colombia, two more brothers were born - Henry and Hermann. My Grandmother from my father's side also lived with us (he was an only child). We lived in a city called Barranquilla, a port city with a very hot climate - sort of like Miami's weather.
In 1973 my father lost his job with KLM - they were downsizing and even though he had invested almost 20 years with that company, he was "terminated" (laid off). All my family moved back to Costa Rica; but I stayed behind to finish High School. I had been in the same school since Kindergarten - the Marymount School- and we decided that I should finish and get my High School Diploma in that same school. Besides, the school had a very good program and I was also going to graduate with the title of Bilingual Secretary, which was going to be very helpful for me in the future (and it definitely has been!) - to be able to get a good job. So I stayed almost a year in the house of one of my classmates (one of my best friends) and graduated in June of 1974 (my parents surprised me for my graduation by coming -from Costa Rica- and that was pretty exciting for me!)
In Costa Rica I started working in a Graphic Arts Company of one of my mother's cousins and I gained great experience in using IBM Composers and assembling and creating all kinds of advertising materials, booklets and books. In 1975 I started College. I went to the University of Costa Rica and continued working part-time. First I thought I would study Economy (I didn't even know the real meaning of that word - but another cousin of my mother's was an Economist and I thought it would be a good idea, I was very good with numbers). I changed my mind a year later and decided to pursue a career in Business Administration with emphasis in Marketing - which was O.K. because all the initial courses were the same. So, even though what I really wanted to study was Architecture (so I thought), I couldn't pursue that career because many people told me that that career at the University of Costa Rica had a bad reputation - and that was the only University who offered it at that time. Costa Rica is a very small country, the size of West Virginia and in 1975 there were only two Universities. I also like art very much and I'm very creative - but only do arts and crafts as a hobby and hope I can have more time one day to pursue this interest.
I graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor's in Business Administration. That same year I participated in an Exchange Program (of AIESEC - an International Association of Students in Business and Economics) and came to United States to work for Domino's Pizza. I became a Manager in Training first in Boulder, Colorado for 9 months and then in Lansing, Michigan for 6 months. It was definitely a great experience; but in 1982, after visiting some friends in Chicago, I decided to go back to Costa Rica. I did a Marketing Study for Domino's Pizza -supported by Mr. Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza- and then took a job with an International Organization (Inter-American Institute of Human Rights) in San José as an Administrative Assistant - where I worked for two and a half years. College was a very good experience for me and it was great being a member of AIESEC - I had the opportunity to travel to many countries to attend international congresses and it was wonderful to meet so many dedicated young people from all over the world (and don't think I had a lot of money - I didn't - but somehow the money came, companies donated to the organization and we had fundraising activities).
I met my husband Ben in Costa Rica in 1984. His best friend in Philadelphia is originally from San José, Costa Rica and he always wanted to visit that country. He stayed with his friend's parents and that's how we met. My best friend was their niece and she told me about this guy coming from USA and she needed me to be the "translator". She didn't speak any English - but I did. He only stayed there for two weeks; but we somehow fell in love. We kept corresponding and having long and expensive phone conversations for a while; then in December of 1984, I came to visit him and stayed here for one whole month (in his parents' home). We had the chance to become very good friends and decided to become engaged during the Holidays. In February of 1985 we got married. Yes that fast; but somehow we new it was the right thing to do and there were no doubts in our minds. Funny, how things work out sometimes. We actually had a Catholic wedding in Costa Rica with my family and friends and in March (1985) we had our Jewish wedding here in Philadelphia with his family and friends. Yes, he is Jewish and I'm Catholic!
Here I took a job with a great company Penn Ventilator Co. and worked with them for two and a half years (as an Administrative Assistant ) until I left to start a family. It was not easy for me to become pregnant because of fibroid tumors and I needed many surgeries. Thankfully Jessica was born in August of 1988. When Jessie was 1 ˝ years old I went back to work part-time for a while; but later I became a full-time Mom. Natalie was miraculously born December of 1993. We had lost a baby in between our girls (which was a terrible loss that caused us incredible pain) and while I was pregnant with Natalie I had to be 7 months in complete bed rest (that was tough! - but the desire to have another baby was that strong.) Our girls mean a lot to us; they are our miracles. It's been so exciting to be their parents; we appreciate every day with them and love them to death (like they say). I'm lucky to have a great husband that supports me in everything I want to do and is an outstanding father. He has some great qualities and we get along great. We work on having good communication and always work as a team, we are great partners. Of course we drive each other crazy at times; but we concentrate in the good qualities of one another and never put each other down. Respect is the main ingredient in healthy relationships. We have chosen to be a happy family and try our best to remain close and motivate each other. My family always comes first!
When Natalie started Kindergarten I went back to work. For two years I worked as the Bilingual Secretary/Administrative Assistant/Teacher's Aide in an Elementary School in an economically depressed area of the city. It was a great experience, but definitely a lot of work! I worked with very dedicated and hard working people and I'll always be grateful for everything I learned there; but when we decided to move to another house, I decided to get another job in a more convenient location. Also the stress can be very high in a school with children with so many behavioral and emotional problems and the environment was very negative in many ways; it was my time to move on.
From October 2001 to November 2004 I worked in a small Counseling Agency. It was also an administrative job; my position was called "Authorization Manager" and it was very detail-oriented work (I'm good at this). I worked with psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. It was not the perfect job - but no job is perfect; it was a good job in many ways and I loved the convenience (location wise); I also had the opportunity to learn a lot, becoming very proficient with computers (I love to learn computer programs) and also learned to become very organized. I discovered that I have the ability to learn very quickly and that I'm good with computers and many other machines . But being a perfectionist I started assuming too many responsibilities and working too hard. I started to feel overwhelmed with so much work (the paperwork is unbelievable when you deal with Insurance Companies) and hardly any days off; so I decided to look for a better job with more time off. With my husband's (and family's and friends') encouragement I decided to send my Resume to my favorite High School for Girls in Jenkintown, PA and got the job! The good news is that as of September 1st, 2004 I'm the Keyboarding and Computer Applications Teacher in the Business Department at this Catholic Academy. In 2005 I also started teaching Digital Applications and I assumed the position of Activities Coordinator. In November of 2006 I also became the "Business Department Head". I'm very motivated in my job, the girls are great and the environment is very positive. I'm looking forward to working in this school for many years to come and motivating these girls to become the best that they can be, follow their dreams and believe in themselves... And to teach them the importance of having faith in a power greater than us! The perfect place to try to inspire teenage girls! Update: the school had some difficult times with enrollment the last five years, and they had to reduce the number of faculty members (I was one of them). Fortunately I found another job in another Catholic HIgh School and I love it there! I presently teach two Digital Art & Graphic Design classes.
So, I guess I cannot complain! I've had a very interesting life (for me) so far and have learned many important lessons and met some wonderful people. I know there's a lot to learn and I'm looking forward to the future. I like to read a lot - like I mentioned in some of the Web pages (I read about human psychology, philosophy, spirituality, different religions and books with positive messages in general - sometimes, I also like a good murder mystery). The important thing is to keep the faith and optimism, to remain positive no matter what and to love yourself and others at all times - unconditionally. My greatest joy: my family! My hobbies: arts and crafts and gardening (besides reading). I really don't like bragging and I hope this doesn't sound too much like bragging; but I thought you would like to know a little bit more about me, my background and experiences. All the best to you, always!
This is one of my favorite poems:
For Those Who Believe All Is Possible
There are no miracles for those
who doubt their possibilities...
But for those who believe -
all is possible.
Whatever you may have believed;
whatever you may have done;
and whatever you may be in your life -
it's not too late to change course
and begin anew...
A fresh start, a bright future
and the wonderful peace that passes
are yours for the taking,
now and forever more!
~ Larry S. Chengges
(Music on this page: "Amor - Blue Flower for Pinky")
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