REMARKABLE WOMEN: Woman on autism spectrum breaking barriers, inspiring others to do the same

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"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper."

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — As a child, Mary Krupa noticed she lived her life unlike many others around her.

“I never really put much importance on being like everybody else because it’s never really been a priority for me,” Krupa said.

At a young age, doctors diagnosed Krupa with Aspergers.

“Someone that’s on the spectrum is going to feel different, whether they’re diagnosed or not,” Krupa said. “A lot of people find it really relieving because they understand why they’re doing the things that they do.”

She works at the ACRES Project, a non-profit located in State College, that helps adults with autism find independence.

“I think it’s been good for me just having aplace where you can come and there’s other people there that are like your friends, and I never really felt like I had a real group of friends until now actually,” Krupa said.

On Mondays, she gathers with her girl friends, who are also on the spectrum, for their weekly book club, that sometimes get off topic.

“Our brains don’t filter stuff very well,” Krupa said. “That’s okay, too. Socializing is important.”

Krupa also has a passion for nature, leading her to work part-time at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, caring for un-releasable birds.

“When I was a little baby, I would just sit in the crib and listen to the birds singing outside,” Krupa said. “They’re also very distractable, which is very much me.”

Krupa’s favorite animal is the owl.

“Sometimes people will get frustrated with that and not know how to work with this bird or that there’s this conception that owls are stupid,” Krupa said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s the case, they’re just different than a hawk or any other animal.”

It’s not just birds. Krupa loves all animals. Even the campus squirrels at her undergrad, Penn State. She started a Facebook page where she shares pictures and stories of ‘Sneezy the Squirrel.’

“Well if the squirrel will come this close, I wonder if it’ll let me touch it, so I tried that one day and she tolerated that, and then the next logical step for me is if the squirrel lets me touch it, what would it look like wearing a tiny hat?” Krupa said.

An image so adoreable, it’s been ‘liked’ many times. Krupa is now known as ‘The Squirrel Whisperer,’ but what inspires her to do it?

“I think sometimes people will see negative things and they think that’s all there is and they lose sight of the fact that there are positive things happening despite all that,” Krupa said. “There’s still things that can make you smile and there’s still things that can give you hope.”

Krupa’s autism lets her view the world through a different lens.

“There’s lots of really cool things that people just don’t notice,” Krupa said. “It’s really exciting, especially even people with autism have like so much to offer to society because of the way we see things differently.”

Her experiences inspiring others, empowering those who may be misunderstood, by staying true to herself, despite being different, makes Mary Krupa, a remarkable woman.

To see all of the Remarkable Women finalists, as we announce them, visit this page.

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