When does experience really begin? That's a difficult question for Andrea to answer. Her earliest memories of writing were around the age of ten. She wrote and illustrated a "Muppet Magazine," full of attention-grabbing headlines and corresponding pieces having to do with Miss Piggy and Kermit, neatly bound with pink yarn. Andrea also wrote, by hand, two books around that same age. The first--about a magical world that could be accessed through a large hole in a neighborhood tree trunk. A young girl stumbles across this magical entrance and finds herself in another world where a war was being waged by trolls against the unicorns that roamed the land. They were captured and chained to stakes in the ground. This young girl soon came to realize that she was only one who could save them. The second book Andrea wrote was a biography of a cat named "Princess," and her adventures with the family who adopted and rescued her from life in a shelter. But if experience begins with printed material that was actually read by someone other than her parents, then Andrea's earliest experience with writing and journalism was in high school where she was co-editor of its paper back in 1989. However, a little, local publication (circulated to the actual public) was the first real newspaper to publish some of Andrea's articles while she was in high school. The very first was about her French pen pal, his first trip to America to visit her after the two corresponded for three years, and his perceptions of America. The paper didn't pay for the piece, but it gave Andrea her first published clips to put in her portfolio. More importantly, it was a first taste of freelance writing, and the beginning of an addiction to bylines. Since then, Andrea has been published in countless magazines and newspapers. She managed a wildlife sanctuary in Texas after graduating from college where she listened to complaints and concerns about wildlife-related problems for two years, eventually turning the most frequently-asked questions and subsequent answers into helpful articles--like what to do if you find a baby bird. They eventually led to a published book on how to co-exist with wildlife. Andrea knew she wanted to be a journalist. After her years at the sanctuary, she enrolled in a Masters of Journalism program at Concordia University in Montreal. She freelanced throughout the program, publishing articles in community newspapers and magazines, and eventually the city's Montreal Gazette. Her mandatory internship was at the prominent Kingston Whig-Standard in Ontario where various assignments resulted in published articles with her byline! The last story she wrote made the front page. It was a piece on finances co-authored with a staff writer. Ironically Andrea pursued broadcast journalism, even though her specialty was in print. She was a television reporter for 17 years, learning how to write in short, fragmented sentences, and was often criticized for writing pieces that were too long and contained too much information! She turned many of her "big" stories into published magazines articles after taking home the quotes and notes from her tape logs. She'd write into the wee hours of the morning in order to finish the pieces while the information was still fresh in her mind. Andrea's currently trying to secure a freelance writing career from home to support her while she works on her ultimate goal--books filled with creative, non-fiction, and novels for children!
When Andrea was interviewing to be a reporter at one of Denver's television stations, the man who would soon become her boss asked her if she had hit a fork in the road, deciding to take the path toward broadcast journalism. So diverse was her background, documented in the pile of resumes, biographies, print articles, and letters of recommendation, that it seemed she had literally walked away from one life in order to pursue another. His perceptions were accurate! While all of Andrea's high school friends picked careers as they neared the end of their college years, immediately jumping into jobs that commanded uniforms or suits, Andrea wasn't in any rush to begin a career--partly because other passions were tugging at her, pleading for her to experience them so that she may better determine exactly what she wanted to do with her life. She indulged those passions. Her first calling was to try and do something she'd always wanted to do--work with wildlife. Andrea moved from her hometown Colorado Springs to Texas shortly after graduation to live with a friend, and weeks after that move, became a volunteer with a wildlife rescue organization just outside of San Antonio. It only took managers weeks to decide they wanted her as an employee, and so the next two years of her life were spent rescuing injured and orphaned wild animals, caring for them, and educating the public about how to better co-exist with wild animals. She taught people how to help them when they were hurt or trapped. Andrea also had the opportunity to work with exotic animals like Jaguars, tropical birds, and various primates who were victims of the exotic pet trade. She soon became no stranger to mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and bears. This wasn't just a fun fling for Andrea. She immersed herself in the issues and conflicts surrounding wild animals, becoming enough of an expert in two years to publish a book on how to co-exist with wildlife. But it also took those two years to help Andrea decide what she really wanted to do with her life. Despite criticism for "goofing around," Andrea was able to satisfy a dream, and satisfying that dream is what enabled her to walk away from it, content and confident about what she wanted to do next. She wanted to become a journalist. Andrea was accepted into a prestigious journalism program at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada where she specialized in print journalism. But, true to her character, she couldn't decide if she wanted to be a print journalist or a broadcast journalist. She was the only one in the class of 18 people to do an internship in three different mediums: radio, television, and print. Unable to let go of her love for videography, she was able to break into the world of broadcast television using a tape she made while doing an internship at a Colorado Springs TV station when she was home for Christmas break. It was perfect, she thought. This way, she could satisfy her desires to be in broadcast, and yet continue to freelance print pieces for magazines and newspapers on the side. That's exactly what she did, gaining more expertise on specific subjects along the way. For example, during her first TV job in a small Colorado town, she fell in love with firefighting. She enrolled in a fire academy put on by the local fire department where she had been doing ride-along's, attending night classes after work for three months until it was finally time to take the test! She passed, becoming a state certified firefighter. She went on to get her red card--a certification that qualified her as a wildland firefighter, educated and certified to fight fires on federal lands. This gave her the tools to write articles on fire safety and fire-related issues. Andrea wrote about things related to her newly-acquired expertise while working as a broadcast reporter--stories often kept her up past midnight as she worked on them in her off time. She also wrote more extensive versions of stories that she covered while working as a TV reporter over the years. Fast forward to today, and Andrea's attitude about expertise and specialties has changed dramatically. After working for a Denver TV station for ten years, she realized that every single day demanded that she become an expert on one thing or another, or at least enough of an expert to portray authority and command respect each and every time she went live in a newscast. She realized that not knowing anything about an assigned subject wasn't an obstacle or a reason not to cover it. All she needed to do was become enough of an expert by the day's end to give the viewers the information they needed and wanted, leaving them satisfied that she had answered their questions and brought them insight. And when she couldn't answer all of their questions, she could at least point them in a direction where they could learn more about the topic or issue at hand on their own. So, while her "specialties" might be on pets, horses, wildlife, firefighting, fire mitigation, gardening, and (the latest) the art of pressing flowers, she's up for writing about most any topic. Years of looming deadlines have taught her how to become an excellent researcher. You need only to tell her what you want to know and convey, and she'll deliver the answers--in a clear, concise, and colorful way!
Andrea has a broad range of interests that include riding horses (English hunter/jumper discipline), gardening, creating pressed flower art, archery, children's literature, creative non-fiction, and photography.
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