Beating the Odds

Andrew Whitters ’04 speaks from experience:  “Even when things are hard in life…you can’t be afraid of it.”

As a student at Mount Mercy, he received a life-threatening diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease—a form of cancer from which he has been in remission since 2005.

“I think I developed my drive, without a doubt, at Mount Mercy—it deepened while I was there,” he said. Whitters’ battle with cancer showed him he was capable of achieving anything he set his mind to, especially with a great community surrounding him.

[photo] Andrew Whitters '04
Andrew Whitters ’04

His life since Mount Mercy has proven that passion, drive and lessons learned are the keys to success in any field. His attitude, and the support he received during his time at Mount Mercy, gave him the foundation to build a fulfilling career helping others.

“I remember talking with one of my professors at Mount Mercy after my diagnosis,” Whitters recounted. “I told him I didn’t want to leave…and be stuck sitting around thinking about cancer every day. He said, ‘If you stay, I’ve got your back.’ So I decided to stay.”

“Even when things are hard in life…you can’t be afraid of it.”
— Andrew Whitters ’04, ARNP, DNP

Whitters used the drive he developed through this experience to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Mount Mercy. He then earned a master’s degree and clinical doctorate from the University of Iowa and worked in cardiovascular and vascular surgery at Mercy of Iowa City.

During his time in private practice, Whitters showed a passion and skill for assisting with surgery and independently managing a surgical practice. As he studied for his nurse practitioner degree and certification, he worked extensively in the cardiac unit.

After his stint in private practice, Whitters was recruited to work for the California-based medical technology firm, Endologix. He currently demonstrates new technology used to repair abdominal aneurysms in hospitals all over the country—equipping vascular surgeons to help save lives.

Whitters enjoys teaching new concepts and surgical techniques, as well as learning from the doctors and surgeons he works with. Naturally, playing a role in saving numerous lives really strikes a chord with him.

While at Mount Mercy, Whitters surrounded himself with people who kept his spirits up. That long list of supporters includes his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Jennifer (Smith) Whitters ’02. Since then, the couple had two children and are thriving as a family.

Other supporters who became lifelong friends include Whitters’ Mount Mercy roommate—he and Whitters were best men at each other’s weddings—as well as Jennifer’s roommate who serves as godmother to one of their sons.

Through a combination of passion and drive, along with a healthy dose of friendship and family support, Whitters found his life’s calling which helped him define what really matters at the end of the day.