Teachers Set Students’ Course in Life

Two teachers made a difference in the life of an upstate New York girl


We know that our children’s teachers are important in their lives as students but we sometimes don’t think of how they might set a child’s course for their entire life. I can honestly say that two teachers did that for me—one in elementary school and one in high school.

When I was a 10-year-old fourth grader my Spanish teacher opened my ears to the Spanish language and my eyes to the cultures of our neighboring Latin American countries. For a young child in upstate New York, this was equivalent to a window on the world! Later, in high school, Sister Peg Brennan, SSJ was both my English teacher and my advisor when I was yearbook editor. She taught me critical thinking, editorial writing, and principles of layout and design that I still follow to this day. Sister Peg believed in me and convinced me that I could be a leader, even at that young age.

During Hispanic Heritage Month I would like to honor Sister Peg for her commitment to education and to her current ministry. She is the founder of a neighborhood organization that helps people deal with urban issues such as poverty, drug abuse and violence by providing a safe haven for neighbors to have a meal, connect with others and learn how to get their lives back on track. Along with being devoted to the lives of others throughout her life, Sister Peg was one of those special mentors that inspired me to seek a career incorporating a love of languages and communications. I am grateful for her and the many other dedicated educators who motivate young people for lifelong learning.


Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter is the Founder and President of Virgilio & Cotter, LLC where she focuses on Marketing and Communications Strategies specializing in the Health Care industries. She also teaches C-Suite Leadership in her role as an adjunct faculty member at NYU's School of Professional Studies. In addition to her own company, Andrea has had both a corporate and entrepreneurial career in marketing and communications as a Global Executive at IBM Corporation and as SVP and Chief Communications Officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), followed by a brand consultancy role at Straightline and a partnership in the workplace culture startup CultureTalk. She speaks several languages, including Spanish, Italian and French has done consulting work with clients in Europe, US and Asia.

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