Andy shaking his ceramic Bell of Freedom with a big smile

Andy’s motivation was his desire to be an independent blind person, and he worked hard at it every day to earn his Freedom Bell. His love of learning was also a real asset.

On August 27 Andy graduated from the Center following eight months of joyful learning powered by an intense desire for personal independence.

“I can’t teach hard work and motivation,” his Home Management Instructor, Maureen told . him.

Andy was a role model of both characteristics. He rarely missed a day and accepted each day’s new challenge with an equanimity that belied his eagerness to try new things.

After three academically successful semesters of college studying Computer Science, he came to the Center because he wanted something more for himself. With virtually no skills in the kitchen or independent travel, he decided he needed to take time off from academics. He Finished up by serving a graduation meal for 60 of tortilla chicken soup, fresh salad and key-lime pie. His Dad and his cousin Kathleen came from New Jersey to be part of his big day.

Picture frame shows a photo of Andy holding his picture frame

Andy’s picture frame in wood shop required careful measurements and precise cuts. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.

“I ate every bit of that meal,” Julie Deden told him, “it was so delicious!”

“Everybody loves you Andy,” Julie went on. “We’re all going to miss you, but we’re all excited for the things you are going to do in your life, and we’re all so proud of you! Now you know that you can do anything!”

True to his nature, Andy remained a man of few words after ringing his Freedom Bell.

“When I first came here, I really couldn’t even use the microwave, and I couldn’t travel anywhere on my own … Now I feel so much more independent … so much more confident …” He paused, his voice uncharacteristically choked with emotion. “Thank you all,” he concluded.

He could hardly have been more eloquent. His Dad jumped up from the table and gave him a great hug.

And now Andy has already finished his first week back in college.

Andy readying his soup to be served

Andy made tortilla soup with fresh salad and key lime pie for 60 guests, including his Dad and cousin Kathleen all the way from New Jersey.