Marena Helgerson, class of 2014, says PCS prepared her for the challenge of finishing her BSN in the tough University of Portland nursing program in just three years. “PCS taught me to study properly” and the many Advanced Placement courses she took at Portland Christian not only counted for college credit but also equipped her for the pace and content of college courses. Marena was awarded an academic scholarship to UP, which was a considerable financial help as well.
Other than study skills and AP credit, what was your primary take-away from PCS? I met my fiancé here! I think above all else I learned resilience at PCS – don’t give up, just keep trying. I didn’t pass the NCLEX (the exam for registered nurse licensure) the first time I took it, and that was hard, but I realized it was actually a good thing – it was God telling me I needed a break. It all worked out fine because I then had the time to take a trip to England with a couple of my PCS friends, and refreshed, I passed the exam the second time around. I think that’s where the resilience paid off.
When did you first come to PCS and why? My parents were actually looking for a school for my older brother. When I came to Purple & Gold Day with him for registration, I walked into the school and I felt God telling me this was the place I needed to be. I enrolled as a freshman the following year. I was challenged every day I was here – in a good way – I was happy, I gained confidence, and I actually enjoyed school.
Did you participate in extra-curricular activities at PCS? I played soccer, basketball, and softball, I sang in the choir, and I was on StuCo. I wish I had also done drama! This fall I returned as an assistant coach for the HS Girls Soccer team – it was an excellent team, we had a great season, and I loved it!
Why did you choose nursing? I was inspired by the nurses who cared for my sister when she had brain surgery several years ago. I spent a lot of time in the hospital watching the nurses work and realized then that this is what I want to do. That stuck with me all through high school and continues to motivate me.
How did PCS influence your faith? I so appreciated what I learned in Bible class when I had to write a paper in college on, “Is Jesus the only way?” What I learned about logical fallacies, and the class discussions at PCS about the hard questions, were excellent preparation not only for writing the paper, but also for meeting the other challenges of college.
What’s next for you? I’ll be starting my first nursing job next week at a Memory Care Center – I’m really looking forward to that. I hope to enroll in graduate school in the future so I can become a Nurse Practitioner. And of course, Curtis and I will be getting married in September.
What advice do you have for current high school students? PCS is a great place to go to high school! Don’t zone out your senior year – take it seriously to get ready for college. Take advantage of the teachers at PCS who want to help you and ask them lots of questions. But take the time to make friends and do the extra-curriculars, too – high school is definitely the time to take advantage of those opportunities.