Visions Across America: Sandy Blank Carosella

Written by Carole Gieseke – Chief Communications Officer, Iowa State University Alumni Association

Photography by Jim Heemstra

03-21-13-sandy-173f8259Sandy Blank Carosella’s description of Lancaster County, Pa., was just too good to pass up.

“There is a wonderful mix of the arts scene, agriculture, education, and history here,” she wrote in response to our request for story ideas in Pennsylvania. “When you are in Pennsylvania, enjoy. Have a whoopie pie, feel the history, and watch out for horses and buggies!”

She had me at whoopie pie: those smooshy, black and white creations that look like oversized Oreo cookies.

Sandy (’88 industrial engineering) has settled with her family (husband Jim and children Kate, 16, and Joe, 7) in Lancaster after living in Tennessee, Missouri, California, Kentucky, and Ohio. They’ve been in Pennsylvania for eight years, and Sandy vows that they’ve finished moving.

She started her career as an engineer (for Quaker Oats and other companies), but when Kate was 18 months old, Sandy decided to quit working full time. She went back to school and earned a master’s in education from Xavier University, thinking that teaching would be a good fit for her family’s schedule.

“I wanted a schedule similar to my daughter’s,” she said. But teaching was actually more intense than her old job (“I was constantly improvising,” she says), and when her second child was born, she quit.

Now, she says, she’s “content to be a mom, room mom, playground monitor, and substitute teacher.” She just finished a long-term substitute position at her daughter’s school.

Sandy likes the history of Lancaster, with its Central Market (the oldest in the country), museums, arts culture, proximity to larger cities, and “calm setting” of the rolling Pennsylvania Dutch farm country.

And, yes, the whoopie pies, a plate of which greeted us on the kitchen table when we visited Sandy in March. Ah, the joys of travel!

The story was written as part of the ISU Alumni Association’s 3-year VISIONS Across America project and first appeared here.