Oak Hills senior Ariana Vacura prepares for life after graduation

May 3—As graduation season arrives each year, the Pioneer features one graduate from each college and high school in the coverage area. Psychology major Ariana Vacura is this year's featured graduate from Oak Hills Christian College, which will host its commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, in the Schreiber Activity Center gymnasium.

The Pioneer provided Vacura with a series of questions to answer:

Why did you choose to attend Oak Hills?

I wanted to go to a Christian college to be able to build a solid Christian foundation and good Christian friendships. Also, my pastor from my home church is an Oak Hills alum, so he is very well-known on campus.

What piqued your interest in psychology?

I am very interested in why people do certain things or think a certain way, specifically children. I want to help children and the family with mental health diagnoses and treatment and to remind them that they are not alone and they can do it.

Have you had a favorite class?

My favorite class has been Adolescent Psychology because it helped me to understand children and adolescents more, and it helped me understand myself when I was an adolescent.

What activities have you participated in?

I am a photographer at Oak Hills, so I'm at most events photographing. I am also the photographer for all of our sports. Whether I have my camera or not, I'm always cheering on our teams. I volunteer for our events to help set up and take down, and anything in between. I am also part of CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) at Bemidji State University.

This past summer, I completed my psychology internship at Sanford Behavioral Health in Bemidji where I completed various tasks. One of my favorites was working with Care Coordination, which helps clients navigate mental health care that they are seeking, but don't know where to begin. I helped with the necessary paperwork the client needed and scheduled them with the best therapist that could help them.

I also worked with Children's Therapeutic Support Services where we worked in a group setting with activities that helped the clients work on their peer skills and emotion regulation skills. During our free time, we did activities that they enjoyed doing.

What are your plans after graduation?

As of right now, I don't know what my plans are. I have continually been applying for jobs at mental health counseling centers. I'm continuing to trust God that He has a plan for my life.

What's been the greatest struggle or hardship you have overcome in your life?

I was born with a physical disability, so I have had many struggles and hardships in my life. The biggest hardship would be getting through this school year at Oak Hills. This fall semester was extremely tough because I was getting hit with one difficult situation after another, so it was really hard to stay focused and motivated to finish school.

What do you consider as your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is being able to drive and live on my own. Because I have a physical disability, driving and living on my own were obstacles I wasn't sure I could overcome, but I did.

Who is your greatest mentor?

My mom has been my greatest mentor. She has been able to give me feedback and advice, even if I don't agree with it, and she has been able to support me through my life.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time outside, reading my books (not school textbooks), spending time with friends and spending time with God.