Courage, Bravery and Fearlessness | Broward College Office of Advancement and Broward College Foundation

Courage, Bravery and Fearlessness

Andrea Fails


Andrea Fails joined the U.S. Army right out of high school. She quickly rose through the ranks during her 16 years of service. Working for the Army’s Criminal Law Department as a paralegal, she oversaw a team of up to 10 soldiers, working on cases ranging from failure to report to murder. She enjoyed every moment of her service and fully expected to spend the majority of her life in the military.

But her time in the service was cut short after a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease and sciatica.

When Andrea was medically discharged in 2013, she moved to Sunrise with her son, Michael, and wife, Moglie, and her focus shifted from the military to attaining a college degree. “I knew college was something I needed to do. I took all AP classes in high school, so I shocked everyone when I made the decision to go into the Army,” she said. “It wasn’t until I retired that I was determined to complete my education.”

After she met with an advisor and enrolled at Broward College, Andrea was ready for her student journey. However she was stopped short once again due to health issues. Doctors found a blood clot in her brain while treating her for her previously diagnosed issues. She had brain decompression surgery that left her using a walker with limited use of her left leg and arm.

Yet only four weeks after surgery, she walked into her first class at Broward College with a bandaged head, slowly progressing with a walker. “It was my very first semester at Broward College. I was nervous, not just about my first day, but also about any unwelcomed attention because of my physical condition,” she said. “My fears were thankfully unfounded.”

Andrea regained her strength and felt she was on an intellectual path of success and a physical track toward wellness. Then she hit another wall. In 2016, she was diagnosed her with stage II ovarian cancer. She faced a total hysterectomy and aggressive follow-up treatment. “I was frantic, because I was coming right up to the end of the semester,” she said. “I asked my professor if I could take the final in her computer programming class early, before surgery. She agreed, but I ended up being too sick to take it.”

Because she had an ‘A’ in the class, she was able to skip the final, thanks to her teacher, Professor Michelle Levine. Since then, Professor Levine has stood by Andrea as she faced 13 rounds of radiation, renal failure followed by months of dialysis, multiple respiratory infections, and then a recurrence of cancer, this time in her bones. “Professor Levine has been so instrumental in helping me make it through this ordeal,” Andrea said. “I think because of her, I worked extra hard to stay on top of my studies no matter what.”

Andrea’s determination has paid off: she earned an Associate of Science Degree in Computer Information Technology from Broward College this past May. And in spite of quarterly chemotherapy treatments, she plans to take fall classes toward a bachelor’s in cyber security and hopes to go on to earn a master’s degree.

Courage, bravery and fearlessness characterize Andrea Fails, both as a soldier and as a civilian. This 36-year-old continues to stare down adversity and fight through seemingly monumental challenges. She does so with hope for her future – and with the help of her Broward College professors.

“It has been and continues to be quite a journey,” Andrea said, “But I’m up for the challenge.”


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