be_ixf;ym_202404 d_19; ct_50

EU Alumni Perspective: Patricia Bisignano D'Andrea

Name: Patricia Bisignano D’Andrea

Graduation Year: 1979

Major: Spanish & Social Science

Current Position: Retired high school & middle school public school teacher

City and State: Clearwater, FL

 

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

I had an amazing teaching career, serving 37 years as a Spanish and Social Studies teacher in Pinellas County Public Schools on the west coast of Florida.  I taught various Social Studies and Spanish courses at the high school level for the first 11 years of my career and taught high school credit Spanish at the middle school level for the last 26 years.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

I have so many favorite memories of my 5 years (1974-79) at Evangel, it’s difficult to select just one.  Some of my most treasured experiences were the missions trips that I took to Mexico during spring break & Costa Rica at Christmas time with SCOPE.  I will never forget the humbling life lesson that I learned about being thankful for my very blessed life during the 1977 missions trip to Costa Rica.  Our group was staying in a small dormitory-like accommodation at the mission.

On Christmas morning, we all woke up in our undecorated dorm and expressed how we were missing our families who were having Christmas breakfast, opening gifts under beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and were preparing for big Christmas dinner feasts later in the day.  In the early afternoon, one of the Costa Rican teenage boys drove his enclosed flatbed truck to the dorm.  He said that his family was inviting us to his house for Christmas dinner.  We were excited to accept his invitation.

His home was a very small structure without glass on the windows and a very narrow door.  His parents had set up what looked like a plywood table in the middle of their tiny living room and graciously served us a typical Costa Rican dinner of rice, beans and chicken.  This young man told us that he was very grateful that we had left our families at Christmas to help his church and community. He said that he knew Amercians gave gifts to each other at Christmas, so he went to the local flea market and bought gifts for each of us.  He gave each girl a teddy bear and memory of the boys’ gifts escapes me.  We went back to our dorm later that afternoon quite humbled.  This gracious Costa Rican family gave us spoiled Americans the very best they had. We returned to the United States a changed group of college students.  By the way, I still have my bear 46 years later and it still reminds me of how blessed my life has been.

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

Since I was a Spanish major, the guidance of Dr. Eliezer Oyola was a priceless gift to me.  He mentored me and encouraged me to spend 5 weeks living with a Spanish family in Valencia, Spain while studying at the University of Valencia during the summer of 1977.  Dr. Oyola and I have continued to stay in contact via Facebook.

Dr. J. Calvin Holsinger inspired me to love history so much, I fell in love with it while at Evangel.  After  spending 3.5 months backpacking in Europe and attending school in Spain, I dropped my declared minor and began a Social Studies major.  Dr. Holsinger and I wrote to each other every Christmas for 37 years until he joined his beloved wife in their heavenly home.

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

I can’t imagine my life having been as enriched as it has been without the love, support and influence of a very special group of Evangel friends known within our circle as “The Brothers & The Sisters.”  The priceless relationships we established during our years at Evangel have literally lasted a lifetime.  Although it’s been over 40 years since we went our separate ways, most of us have continued to stay in contact, visit one another and pray for one another.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Life is full of choices and sometimes, it’s difficult to always make wise choices.  Follow your heart, pray for God’s direction, and try to be flexible.  You may or may not stay with the same professional career your entire adult life like I did because God is leading you to take a different path. It’s ok to move in a different direction and make a different choice if that’s what God is leading you to do.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

I would look for people committed to personal integrity and personal growth.  In addition, work ethics such as being self-motivated, hard-working, dependable, communicative, collaborative, positive, and flexible are essential contributions  to a company’s work environment and success.