Fierce advocate always ready to tackle life’s challenges

June 09, 2017 11:11 AM

Sometimes, the education we seek comes from many forms. For one woman, the knowledge she gained came not only from her studies, but from unforeseen circumstances as well. However, she says she’s all the better for it.

Mandy D’Andrea has always wanted a career that involved helping others. One side of her family has a history in politics, so she thought that was the way to go. She went to Siena, majored in political science and worked for Governor George Pataki.

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However, she realized working with individuals was what she really wanted to do, so she went back to school to earn a degree in counseling.

Then life happened. She got married and had two kids. Her second daughter was diagnosed with autism. It was unclear if she would ever walk or talk. School was put on hold. Her daughter became priority one.

Fast forward to today and D’Andrea is walking down the halls of Gowana Middle School in Clifton Park, where she works as a school counselor. Even though it took a little longer than expected, she never gave up on her dreams and she graduated from the College of Saint Rose in May. However, she sadly had to watch the ceremony online. That’s because an accident caused a major flood at her home.

Still, she finally accomplished what she set out to do.

In addition, advocating for her daughter proved successful too. She's walking and talking and on her way to middle school. 

It's not the education D’Andrea imagined, but forever the optimist, she says her challenges have probably made her a better school counselor.

"What I’ve gone through definitely makes me more empathic and understanding of what people are going through on a daily basis," she pointed out.


Elaine Houston

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