During Mackenzie Andrews’ quest to understand her father’s drug addiction, her mother, Karina, sacrificed to keep her on track and succeeding at the University of Washington.

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IT’S NEVER EASY to distill someone’s life — someone’s story — down to 2,500 words. In profile stories sometimes, important characters don’t always get a starring role.

In this edition, Mackenzie Andrews comes to grips with her father’s imprisonment. She turned pain over his absence into passion. Through science, she gained an understanding of his disease: addiction. Her efforts to learn and understand propelled her to incredible success at the University of Washington and opened the door to reconciliation.

The danger, of course, in focusing on the person who wasn’t there in Mackenzie’s success story, is giving short shrift to the person present the entire time.

THE FULL STORY: A UW student found success, and answers about her father’s addiction

“Losing her husband, being a single mom, having tons of debt and a low-paying job,” Mackenzie said of her mother, Karina Andrews. “It’s unfathomable. She’s the strongest.”

Karina was the parent behind the camera filming for an English project. She was there to open the letter notifying Mackenzie that she’d received a full scholarship to her dream school, from which Mackenzie will soon graduate with two degrees.

Mackenzie is a fascinating young woman. She was fourth among college powerlifters in her weight class at this year’s national competition. She’s part of a team that recently won $4,000 in a Johns Hopkins University contest for its design of a screw-on adapter for medical eye droppers. (Drug companies make eyedrops that dispense too much medicine, so people use — and pay — more, according to news website ProPublica. Mackenzie and her team’s adapter fix the problem.)

This fall, Mackenzie will attend graduate school at UW. She’s aiming to become an entrepreneur in the burgeoning field of bioengineering.

“She brings it up sometimes,” Mackenzie says of her mom: “ ‘I did pretty good, huh?’ ”