Personal Life Experience Helped Her Inspire Others

Trixy Betsworth wants to be recognized for her skills, not her deafness. She has spent a lifetime advocating for herself. So, when she decided to pursue a career in the paralegal field, her life experience gave her a real edge. Now, she’s able to change lives and inspire others.

Q. What brought you to UCR University Extension?

A: “I was at a point in my life where I was contemplating a career change. I did some personal reflection to see what skills I could take from my previous career as a Library Specialist to a new career. I loved my previous career, and wanted to transition skills I had developed during that time of my life.

Becoming a paralegal seemed like such a natural fit because you work with people, you do research (which I love to do), and you have the potential to help people change their lives. There are so many different career paths for paralegal students. I chose one where I work with the public sector, and can make a difference for someone.”

Q. Looking back at where you were when you started this journey, where did you think or hope it would lead you?

A: “When I was thinking about earning my Professional Certificate in Paralegal Studies, my main concern was obtaining employment after completing the program. From my research, I learned that the paralegal field had a great future job growth potential. My hope was that I could find a position with a company that is as comfortable with me as I am with them. I found this at Inland Counties Legal Service (ICLS).

ICLS is the largest legal aid provider in the Inland Empire. We work with low income and/or senior residents who have a variety of legal issues in areas such as healthcare, consumer complaints, immigration, family law, and public benefits and education--which is the group I work in.”

Q. What are you doing now with ICLS?

A: “I started as an intern at ICLS. When my internship was complete, I stayed on as a volunteer because I enjoyed the work and the people I worked with very much. I really believe in their mission to provide justice to those who may not have the ability to access legal services otherwise. It’s such a great organization with outstanding staff who work tirelessly on behalf of their clients.”

Q. What have been some of the most exciting or rewarding moments of your career so far?

A: “My very, very first case I was assigned just concluded in a favorable outcome for the client. My client is a native Korean speaker and reader, and because I am deaf, we had to arrange dual interpreters so we could communicate by phone. We managed to successfully communicate through a Korean interpreter AND an American Sign Language interpreter. It was awesome.

The client’s benefits were being terminated, so I represented her at the California State Appeals Board. I helped her fill out paperwork that was required in order to keep her benefits, and communicated directly with the appeals specialist to resolve the client’s issue. She had extra medical expenses that she had not reported. Medical expenses can increase benefits because they reduce income a person can use for their shelter and food.

The client ended up receiving a year of benefits at twice the amount she was originally receiving. I was so happy because she is below the federal poverty limit. It was life-changing and will help her tremendously. It was definitely a feel-good and rewarding moment.”

Q. What has been the greatest challenge you have faced during your career?

A: “The greatest challenge for me has always been getting employers and staff to look at my skills rather than my deafness. I am, and always will be, an advocate for myself and for others who are deaf. Deafness cannot be seen until one starts to communicate. In general, people do not understand deafness and because of that, deaf people face many challenges.

What hearing people should understand is that we have lived with our deafness our whole lives, and we know best how to navigate communication issues. Employers need to be open-minded to hearing how potential deaf employees do their work. Trust me--hiring a deaf person can be a great decision! I am blessed to have an employer who is open-minded and accepting.”

Q. What career advice would you give to students looking to move into the paralegal industry?

A: “There are so many different areas a paralegal can work in! The sky is literally the limit in this industry. If you are not sure what area to work in, an internship is an awesome way to test out a field. Also, volunteering can give you experience and insight, and be helpful in decision-making.”

Q. Was there something (or someone) memorable to your experience in the program?

A: “Yes!!! Every UCR University Extension staff member has had an impact on me—and I truly mean that. The program hires people who are top lawyers and paralegals in their fields. I have learned so much about legal writing from instructor and litigation paralegal Jacqueline James. But I also benefitted from the guidance and experience of all the instructors who taught classes. They are industry experts, and so dedicated to the profession. We are lucky to have been taught by them!”

Q. In your life today, Trixy, what makes you really happy?

A: “I have a great career, and I work for a wonderful organization. But the most important part of my life is my family. I’ve been with my husband, Adam, for 23 years. Adam is also deaf and a professional civil engineer with Lee & Ro. My two sons, Noah and Jonah, are 14 and 10, respectively, and my dog, Hank, give me so much happiness. They have supported me on every step of my journey, and I’m so lucky. They are what life is all about!”

UCR University Extension graduate Trixy Betsworth and her family Trixy Betsworth
Trixy, her husband Adam, sons, Jonah and Noah, and family dog, Hank.