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Andrew Shelley '03

Andrew "Drew" Shelley graduated from USD in 2003 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Friends and professors and staff have made a big impact on his life. Despite being born with the debilitating muscle disease "Muscular Dystrophy", Drew was always actively involved on campus and still lives his life to the fullest. Fellow USD alumni, Andrea Altmann, best describes the impact Drew makes on people, "No matter where you go, everyone knows Drew." You can expect to see Drew soon in theatres in the feature documentary, "Beyond The Chair." A trailer can be viewed on the official documentary website, www.btcmovie.com.

1: What have you been up to since graduation?
Entering the real world equipped with knowledge and a will to succeed, I secured a job with Lockheed Martin as a systems engineer. Even though I had a great job, bought a condo, and owned a yellow Jeep, but I knew that there was something more to life than just working a 9 to 5 job. Needless to say I was growing steadily unhappy and began questioning where my life was heading, so I gave it all up. I packed up whatever I needed and could fit into a duffle bag, hopped on my monster truck of a wheel chair, and traveled the world as a backpacker.  My roommate was a film major and wanted to make movies, so we joined forces to film a documentary about my adventure around the world. An adventure that my parents, doctors, and friends told me would be impossible because of Muscular Dystrophy. My travels and time spent living out of a backpack changed my life, and made me realize that I want to help other people to find the strength to live out their dreams, no matter how impossible. For a limit time you can buy a pre-sale DVD of this amazing journey I took, http://www.btcmovie.com/btcultimate/phase1/pre_order/pre_order.html.

2: What is your fondest memory of USD?
My fondest memories have to be the late nights in the engineering labs cranking out homework problems and debugging code for design projects. We used to call it "Club Loma" because the engineering labs were in Loma Hall and we should have been out partying. What a dork I was seriously though, one of the greatest thing about USD were the students. It wasn't any one person or event, but just the entire experience. As you may guess, sometimes it's hard for people to openly accept a person living with a disability, so I was very touched to find so many warm and welcoming students and friends at USD.

3. What is your favorite place on campus, why?
There are so many new great places that weren't there before but I've always enjoyed the "cafe." It was a great place to go meet up with friends and leave with a satisfyingly full stomach. Who could complain?

4. Who was your favorite USD professor or class?
So many good professors, but Dr. Morse stands out as one of the best. Entertaining and knowledgeable, his engineering classes were always a good learning experience. And no, outings on his yacht didn't sway my opinion...

5: How have you remained involved with USD since graduation?
I've been attending alumni events and homecoming reunions ever since graduating, watching the campus grow over the years, and keeping in touch with friends and fellow alumni. The time at USD will always be some of my fondest memories, and all these alumni events are great ways to hold on to that part of my life.

6: If you could offer a current USD student advice, what would it be?
Study hard, get involved and position yourself to have unique skills that make you stand out from others. Most importantly, enjoy it!

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