Graduation marks major milestone for family after serious car crash

June 12, 2019

Nursing graduate Paige Andrews celebrated Commencement with her mother and younger sister proudly cheering her on. It was a moment the family calls a milestone — not only for Paige but for all of them.

Nine years ago, the family from Rocky Mount, Va., was involved in a car accident. Another car heading in the opposite direction crossed the yellow line and hit them head-on. The father, Robert, was killed instantly. Paige was airlifted to the hospital along with her mother, Tanya, and sister, Cameron. It was a serious accident, serious enough to cause Tanya, already grieving an unimaginable loss, to pray fervently for her and her daughters’ health. She didn’t know what their futures held.

“In the immediacy of the accident, my only prayers were, ‘Lord, just let me see my daughters raised to adulthood,’” she said.

Sitting at the main Commencement Ceremony watching Paige turn her tassel was a much bigger answer to that prayer than she could have ever expected. Now seeing both of her daughters (Cameron is also pursuing a Liberty degree) press on toward their life goals after such a tragic loss has been amazing, she said. Their faith is what has carried them through.

“I feel like God’s hand has been in this all along, guiding and directing and providing,” she said. “It was very poignant to see how God took something that was so tragic and, as He always promises, He’s working for His glory and our good. And those two things aren’t incompatible. So, it is a huge milestone.”

Paige was inspired to become a nurse by the nurses who cared for her and her family after the accident.

“I had some amazing nurses and afterward I just kept thinking, ‘I could do that,’” Paige said. “They were able to talk to me and help me during one of the hardest moments of my life, and I said, ‘I could do that. I could be that person.’ As I got older, into high school, I really couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do. I even tried to think of other things because certain aspects of nursing can be very difficult and scary — but I couldn’t.”

During her clinical rotations, she had the chance to work on the same floor at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where she stayed as a patient after the accident.

“It gave me some opportunities to share my story with some people, and it really helped to see where God has brought me and to tell patients, ‘You are going to be able to pull through this. God is going to bring you through this,’” Paige said.

Paige will soon be working full time in the cardiothoracic ICU at Centra Lynchburg General Hospital.

Recently, Tanya Andrews met Liberty President Jerry Falwell and shared her family’s story. They met by chance at a local pharmacy.

“I had always wanted to thank him for the role Liberty has played in my children’s lives, for the excellent education that they’ve received,” Tanya said. “When I walked in, he was sitting there eating his Cheetos, which I found out was one of his favorite snacks. It’s also one of my favorite snacks, and I just thought, ‘Well, what an opportunity.’”

Liberty President Jerry Falwell told the Andrews’ story during the Commencement Ceremony. Their picture was shown on the videoboard overhead.

“God has truly rewarded the Andrews family for never giving up in spite of circumstances that would have caused others to throw in the towel,” Falwell said.

At a time when graduates everywhere are celebrating where they’ve come from and are looking forward to their futures, Paige and her mother and sister agree with President Falwell’s remarks.

“God has been so faithful,” Paige said. “He’s just given me opportunity after opportunity to look back and be grateful, and I don’t want to take any of it for granted. I want to be able to recount all the opportunities He has given me and not waste them.”

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