Alumna Andrea Otero Connects With Community

Andrea Otero (right) with Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell (left)

The first in her family to graduate from college back in 2009, Andrea Otero understands the importance of hard work when crafting dreams into reality. Now, as the community outreach and communications specialist for the Orange County Clerk of Courts, she is leading the efforts in promoting the many services the Clerk’s office provides in helping citizens access the justice system.

“My role as the outreach specialist is to make sure our community gets the communication they need,” Otero said. “Coming into the courthouse can be a challenging experience for customers.”

Often, visitors to the courthouse feel cut-off and confused about aspects of the justice process, but Otero steps in to answer any questions they may have, whether it’s at a community festival, a neighborhood association meeting or even at a college campus.

“Many people don’t know how to access the justice system without the help of an attorney,” she said. “Our office makes the process less intimidating for them.”

Day-to-day, Otero can be seen out in the community promoting the new self-help center, where visitors can meet with attorneys for a dollar a minute, or helping students learn how to apply for a passport at a school fair. She’s in charge of making sure the community knows about each service the courthouse offers to the public.

“My job is not a nine to five desk job,” she said. “If I’m sitting at my desk all day, then I’m not doing my job right. I have to be out in the community talking to the public.”

The job is a perfect fit for someone as community-driven as Otero and offers her many opportunities to grow as a community leader.

“I am challenged every day to think outside the box,” she said. “I work for an elected official who inspires me to push myself every day and to work hard for the community we serve.”

Otero is well-accustomed to challenges. While studying for her political science degree at UCF, she managed to successfully balance a full-time job with the demands of student life.

“You have to be able to balance your time daily in order to manage all the different aspects of being a career student,” she said. “It’s not easy, but it can be done. You can have opportunities to network with your peers or professionals in your field through internships or where you work while you study.”

She also refused to let the difficulty of being both a full-time student and full-time employee stop her from taking on more work. During her time at school, she also interned for Congress and the Clerk of Courts while she juggled her life as a career student.

Now, despite having a work schedule that could rival the time commitment of her student life schedule, Otero takes time out of her day to inspire the local community. Last year, she took part in the Women UKnighted Meet Your Mentor program, where she encouraged young, female students interested in the public service field.

“Discussing how an education from UCF can shape your career is important to hear it from those who are living proof,” she said. “I enjoyed talking with female students who were in the same position I was when I was studying at UCF. The value of education is expensive, but also priceless in the opportunities it can give you.”

Since graduation, Otero has remained connected with the UCF community, as well as the Central Florida area. She is a member of the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, the League of Women Voters of Orange County, the American Society of Public Administration, the American Political Science Association, the New Leaders Council, and the Harbor House of Central Florida Young Professionals.

“When you’re working in local government, you can make a direct impact in your community,” Otero said. “Orlando is the hub of opportunity. If you use the resources UCF provides, then you can find your career path and work locally.”

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