Creative Future Burns Bright for Graduate
It was “a dose of culture shock” when at age 16 Andrea Bradley’s family uprooted from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and landed in Rexburg, Idaho. “I struggled for two years to live in such a different place culturally and geographically,” Andrea recalls. “The silver lining was that Rexburg housed BYU-Idaho.”
But this initial cultural change was nothing compared to what was in store for her six years later in Mexico. There, she would fulfill a destiny that she hadn’t even dreamed about yet.
Still a high school student, Andrea remembers that “it was so easy to feel the Spirit by merely walking on the campus sidewalks or through the gardens. I could imagine what it would feel like to be taught on a daily basis within the walls of BYU-Idaho’s classrooms.”
Andrea applied and was accepted to BYU-Idaho. “I finally felt my family’s move out west was meant to be,” she said. Things looked up even further when she unexpectedly received the Robert and Gwen Lee scholarship. “It was such a relief,” she stated. “I felt both privileged and blessed. As I balanced school and my work as a waitress, the scholarship was exactly the boost I needed for my finances and academic journey.”
At BYU-Idaho, Andrea pursued a bachelor’s in Communications. At first intimidated by the talent around her, she decided to be inspired instead of discouraged. “Once I let professors be some of my biggest cheerleaders, my creativity felt unleashed. I never looked back.” She learned to be a leader and have presence in front of a room.
After a few years of dedicated study, Andrea abruptly found herself graduating. “I had finished a project just the week before,” she said, “and suddenly I was in a cap and gown. The big day had arrived. Upon entering the auditorium, I saw them - smiling professors lining the halls, applauding us and patting each graduate on the back. To see in just a matter of minutes those who had shaped and taught me is something I will never forget.”
Upon graduating, Andrea was hired as a multimedia teacher at the prestigious Colegio Inglés school in Monterrey, Mexico. She was soon asked to lead the staff in an AppleTM MacBook initiative. Now in her fourth year, she heads up the iPadTM program for grades 4-6 and teaches advanced Photoshop to students in ninth grade.
Excited to teach and to serve, Andrea oversees the Photography Club with 15 “energetic and trigger-happy students.” Impressed with her gifts, the school has asked her to do promotional videos and design projects for them. She has her own photography brand, DoublClik, and said being an American photographer in Mexico has “made quite a splash!”
“Now more than ever, I see the value of my time at BYU-Idaho,” she said. “The Learning Model helped me learn to speak up, to delegate, and to empathize with different mindsets, backgrounds, and cultures. I learned to seize opportunities and go forward with faith. I feel that being a BYU-Idaho Alumni has helped me enrich the lives of many others, especially here in Mexico.”
With her new life in Mexico, Andrea wondered if she would ever return to Pittsburgh. She now knows the answer. A “Florecida” series of framed photographs exhibiting her life abroad in Mexico is appearing in a gallery there. She has come full circle.
Reflecting on how people have blessed her life, Andrea said, “I now see how I can love and help so many others in need. I’m excited to be an answer to people’s prayers.”