Amplify Womxn of UCI: Hearing Our Stories
Karen Andrews is the Director of the Disability Services Center (DSC) for the University of California, Irvine. She joined the DSC team in April 2018 after almost three years at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) as the Disability Support Services Director. Ms. Andrews works with students, faculty, and staff to eliminate, eradicate, and obliterate stereotypical thinking about disabilities. When asked “why Alaska” she read Call of the Wild as a child and decided that she would one day live in Alaska. Andrews relocated to Anchorage. Prior to Alaska, she lived in Northern Virginia outside of Washington, DC where she worked at George Mason University as the Associate Director of Disability Services. Prior to working at George Mason, Ms. Andrews was the Director of Disability Services at Strayer University serving more than 100 nationwide campuses. Serving students who experience disabilities is a priority and her passion is to ensure students receive a level playing field towards achieving success academically and in life. Andrews truly believes that “Disability Rights Are Civil Rights!” Ms. Andrews has 12 years of experience as a K-12 special education teacher in Arizona where she worked with cross-categorical special needs students who were primarily from first generation, Mexican families. She has direct experience with those who were placed in special education classes due to their English Second Language status versus documented disabilities. In Michigan she taught in an inner-city school in Lansing serving a very diverse population.
Growing up during the civil rights era, Andrews has personal experience with the fight against racial discrimination and injustice. Her parents decided that Brown versus the Board of Education meant what it said and decided not to send their African American/Native American daughter to a racially segregated, two-room school house in Delaware. Her entire K-12 experience was in an all-white school in a town that had a statement in its charter that no person of color could live within the town limits. This is when and where Andrews decided that academic success was the loudest statement she could ever make against the ignorance of racial discrimination. Ms. Andrews is a fierce advocate for social justice having been personally involved in civil rights issues since the age of five. Diversity is not just a “buzz word” in her vocabulary.
Karen Andrews earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a dual major in Elementary and Special Education. She earned a Master of Education degree in Adult Education and Development and is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. Educational Psychology/Teaching and Instruction program.
Living a life of purpose is her highest priority. She enjoys travel, reading, and walking, but her main enjoyment in life comes from her three granddaughters who live in Arizona!