POSTSCRIPTS: A University of Washington student found success, and answers about her father’s addiction, but their future relationship is up to him, she says.
Editor’s note: In Postscripts, we catch up with some of the people and places we’ve visited in Pacific NW magazine.
THE RESPONSE LEFT Mackenzie Andrews astounded.
Dozens of people contacted her after we published a story detailing her father’s drug use and arrests, how Andrews’ addiction studies helped explain why her family had fallen apart and how she was able to begin to reconcile with her dad once she viewed addiction as a disease.
The president of the University of Washington, where she is a student, emailed a note of congratulations. A former boyfriend’s mother got back in touch. Strangers recognized her on campus, messaged her on LinkedIn, and shared their own stories of family and addiction.
“It was eye-opening to see how many people related to my story,” Andrews says.
The strangers came from different perspectives, she says. Some found her story inspiring — that someone who had faced such tumult had accomplished so much, and at such a young age. Others said her story changed their negative views of families facing addiction. A classmate, whose sister had been jailed recently, told Andrews the story made her feel empowered and less alone.
It was through science that Andrews had answered her longstanding questions about addiction and her family. Now, others were learning from her.
It was powerful, she says, “to see the impact telling my experience, and telling my story, could make.”
Since the story was published in the spring, her parents finalized their divorce, ending a sometimes-bitter process. Moving on has been good for everyone, Andrews says.
Now, she’s shaping a trajectory of her own. She’s got momentum. The word “goal” launches off her tongue every few minutes.
Andrews graduated from UW in June, the first in her family to complete college, earning degrees in neurobiology and bioengineering. She’ll finish a master’s in bioengineering next spring. Nanodropper, the startup company she co-founded, is taking investments. The company hopes to begin manufacturing its screw-on devices, which make eyedropper medicines last longer, as early as April.
Andrews moved to Lynnwood with her boyfriend so he could be near his dream job at Boeing. Her powerlifting career has thrived. She placed sixth in her weight and age class at a national meet in October.
Occasionally, she shares text messages with her father.
“I’m still interested in building a relationship with him again, but the ball’s kind of in his court, to put in the effort and prove that he will be someone who is productive in my life,” she says.