Alana Andrus: Inspiration to All


Contemplating the transition from MSMS to the real world. (Photo provided by Alana Andrus)

Ada Fulgham, Vision writer, comic artist

When I first met Alana Andrus, MSMS class of 2018, I was struck by her incessant enthusiasm and determination, her strong friendship with not only her fellow classmates at the time but also her seniors–including my sister, whom she played violin with in the MSMS Blue Notes. So, when I had to think of an alum to spotlight for this week’s Vision, I knew I had someone special in mind.

Andrus’ enthusiasm shined through when I asked her to answer interview questions over Instagram chat: her almost immediate response was “Sure! I’m super excited!” despite definitely having other more important things to do (like having a weekend job at Chick-fil-A, being a second violin in the Lafayette Oxford University (or LOU); and being an active member in Chi Alpha (XA) Ole Miss, an on-campus Christian ministry) than answering basic life questions about herself. However, Alana answered all 10 of my rather vague questions, again following through with her enthusiastic personality–answering with more than a few paragraphs, especially on topics she is passionate about.

One topic was definitely MSMS, as Andrus expresses that “MSMS has a very special place in my heart. I believe it helped me more than I give it credit for. It has helped both in the realms of academia as well as personal strengths. I think MSMS really helped me learn how to be a better student. I still fall short sometimes while here in college, but I would be worse off without MSMS. The friends I made there, even those far away, are still cheering me on and they make it very obvious. MSMS was the best decision I have ever made for my future, and I don’t regret it even though it was a very large sacrifice.”

She says that MSMS was the best decision for her future, and it shows. She is currently at her “dream school,” Ole Miss, and says, “I am actually in school to become a pediatrician. I am […] working towards a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in music on the pre-med track. After medical school, I plan to practice medicine as long as I physically can.”

Her passion for her study concentrations is especially inspiring to me, as I, along with many of our MSMS juniors–and even seniors–try to decide what to do with the rest of our lives after high school. Sometimes I even think it isn’t possible to find something that you are passionate enough about to want to spend your whole life doing. But Andrus is a guiding light, a reassurance that you can find something so all-consumingly amazing to put all your energy into and want to fabricate your life around.

However, everyone needs a break, especially when you’re a pre-med student. Andrus says she finds time to calm down by volunteering and playing music, mixing that with her schoolwork. She says that “I was never a sporty person, but I am in love with music. I have played violin for seven years now, and I am teaching myself piano slowly but surely. I used to write a ton, but now I am focused on writing papers.” Andrus adds, “I volunteer every now and then. Other than that, I am either studying or sleeping. Being a college kid is kind of boring sometimes.”

As well as being involved in these more outward activities, Andrus is introspective, guided by inner determination taken both from her own experiences and self-made motivation, and also inspirations such as teachers and one notable figure, Louis Zamperini. He was a WW2 veteran, and the book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand has inspired Andrus to take on the persistence and faith of Zamperini, who was a Japanese prisoner of war. Andrus says that “after watching Unbroken and reading the book, I was overwhelmed with all [Zamperini] went through, and I figured, if he could go through hell on earth, I could overcome a little stress in my cushy life. One of my favorite quotes from the movie/book is, ‘If you can take it, you can make it.’ I really live by that.”

Her other inspirations are MSMS teachers, which include some more-than-familiar names of some of our own beloved teachers. Andrus says she actually has two favorites despite it being a hard choice, and continues: “I hate playing favorites because I love every single one of them. My two favorites are Mrs. Truitt and Dr. Benge. Mrs. Truitt taught me how to stay cool in situations where I just wanted to let my temper get to me, and Dr. Benge taught me that school wasn’t always going to be applicable. Sometimes, school was just going to be tough to teach me problem solving skills. They both taught me life experiences that, honestly, are more relevant now that I am in college than I ever thought imaginable.”

Andrus also mentions a less-familiar name to more current MSMS students: “My favorite course at MSMS was microbiology with Mrs. Leonard.” Andrus says that this junior experience played a part in her major, and that her college years echo her first year at MSMS; reminiscing about her excitement during the course, Andrus expresses her passion for the course, which she remembers as being one of her first tastes of pre-med science college courses: “I was able to identify an organism based off of the different tests we had learned about over the semester, and I remember being super excited for lab because I would get one step closer to discovering what this little microbe was.”

The things that define me are absolutely the sheer power to keep going even when things are difficult. I refuse to give up no matter what the circumstances are because the rewards in the long run are worth more than the momentary rewards of giving in to the temptations of quitting.”

— Alana Andrus, co'18

Through it all, Andrus stays true to herself. One thing in particular she said is possibly the most inspiring thing I’ve ever heard, worth more than any Pinterest vision board or cheesy inspirational internet quote; (reading it aloud, it inspired my roommate to study for her AP Chem exam, which is a mood we are all familiar with dealing with any AP Exam). Andrus says that she defines herself by her dedication to herself and her future: “The things that define me are absolutely the sheer power to keep going even when things are difficult. I refuse to give up no matter what the circumstances are because the rewards in the long run are worth more than the momentary rewards of giving in to the temptations of quitting.”

Andrus is from Idaho Falls, Idaho, but her family currently lives in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. As well as offering a (rather dramatic) change of scenery, to say the least, moving to Mississippi has provided her with the opportunity to have The MSMS Experience, which we are all currently in varying stages of (hopefully) enjoying. She encompasses her feelings for the school by saying, “As far as academic successes, MSMS was the biggest academic success I think I have ever had.”

A crazily talented and empowering alum, Andrus leaves us with her signature inspirational determination, giving back to the place who shaped so much of who she is now by giving us students all a valuable piece of advice: “For the seniors, you’re almost there, but don’t get caught up in how many days are left. Pay attention to the little details because you will miss it more than you think you will….even the bad parts. For the juniors, this is only the beginning to everything great that will unfold in your life.”