‘Ray of sunshine’: NCCC student remembered by instructors, peers
SARANAC LAKE — Andie Carpenter, a 20-year-old North Country Community College sophomore in her last semester of the Radiologic Technology program, died last week.
“What I would say about Andie is that she’s true to her word and she lights up the room,” said Becky LaDue, Rad Tech program director. “She’s a ray of sunshine.”
Carpenter had been living in Saranac Lake since 2017, studying at NCCC. She lived with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which causes fragility in the arteries, muscles and organs. She died from an event related to the condition on Thursday, Jan. 31.
LaDue said she’s known Carpenter since September 2017, when she started instruction at NCCC. One recent memory stood out to LaDue: NCCC canceled classes on Friday, Jan. 25 because of winter storms in the surrounding area. Many students commute to the village every other Friday for the Rad Tech program from places such as Potsdam and Malone.
“Immediately after my email was sent that morning she was like, ‘Hey, are you and Scott going to be in?'” LaDue said. “‘Of course,’ and she said, ‘OK, I want to stop by and see you.'”
Around 11:30 a.m., Ladue said Carpenter stopped by with a bag of popcorn from Adirondack Popcorn Co., where she worked — just because LaDue once mentioned she and her children enjoyed it.
“She could’ve stayed home and been like, ‘Oh great, it’s a day off; I don’t have to go in,’ and just chill.’ No, she wanted to see us,” LaDue said. “She wanted to see how we were doing … and wanted to stop in and give us that smile.”
Rad Tech faculty member Scott Stringer agreed.
“I never saw Andie without a smile on her face,” Stringer said. “Every time you saw her, it was just lighting up the room, like Becky said. That was Andie.”
LaDue said one can relate the Rad Tech program to something like a basketball or soccer team, in that students are together all the time, with the same cohort for two years.
“Andie and I have been sitting in the same class together since day one,” wrote Nicole Jessie, a sophomore in the Rad Tech program. “Something I will always remember and miss about Andie is how encouraging she was.”
Two weeks ago, Jessie said, she and Carpenter were let go from their clinical early because of the weather — so Jessie drove her around Tupper Lake.
“I drove her around town, showing her all the different mountain views and lakes,” Jessie said. “These are views that I drive by every day and never think twice about it, but Andie was in awe. Also, it was a cloudy day, so the mountain ranges were not as beautiful and clear as they could have been, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to pull over and take a picture. This memory will stick with me forever.”
Over the course of the two-year Rad Tech program, students spend 1,500 in clinical training and work on site at radiologic technology departments across the North Country. During Carpenter’s time at NCCC, she trained at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, Canton-Potsdam Hospital and, since September 2018, Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.
“She knew the staff very, very well,” LaDue said. “They bonded. They’re like family.”
Kristin Meissner, a radiologic technologist at AMC, said that over the last 14 years working with NCCC students, she’s seen a lot of different personalities.
“Andie’s was one of the best,” Meissner wrote. “She was happy, bright and a joy to have as part of the team. Our department and our patients were touched by her caring nature and we are all deeply saddened that she is no longer with us.”
Jennifer Patnode, another radiologic technologist at AMC, agreed with the other mentors in the program — Carpenter was always smiling.
“She was a very happy, charismatic and kind person,” Patnode wrote. “I feel honored to have known her. We will all miss her dearly.”
Carpenter’s family will receive friends on Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Fowler Funeral Home Inc. in Brockport. Her funeral will be held there Thursday at 11 a.m.
The family has asked that instead of flowers, those wishing to donate should support the Center for Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Research, mailing donations c/o Dr. Hal Dietz, Institute of Genetic Medicine fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, 855 North Wolfe St., Rangos 550, Baltimore, MD 21205. Donations will also be accepted for the Andie Mae Carpenter Scholarship Fund at Holley Central School District, 3800 North Main St., Holley, NY 14470.
(Correction: Scott Stringer’s last name was misspelled in an earlier verion of this article.)