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Erin Onderko

Erin was a PCS Warrior from grades 9-12 and graduated in 2019. She has been very busy since her graduation. Here are some thoughts she wanted to share about her Warrior experience. 

What have you been up to since your time at PCS? Thanks to my College Within High School courses at PCS, I graduated college a semester early. I will walk in May at Waynesburg University to officially receive my Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Child Development. I have just accepted a position as a Child Life Specialist at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, PA and I'm so excited to begin!

Thanks to the values of service that PCS instilled in me, I was blessed to be accepted into the Bonner Scholars program at Waynesburg during my time there. I would obtain 140 hours of service each semester, and 280 hours each summer. I have grown so much through my service, and I truly believe that if it were not for being exposed to service at PCS through work days and the DR trips, I would have been too afraid to even apply and missed out on an amazing adventure. 

Do you have any accomplishments you wish to share? My greatest accomplishments of late are a few things. Following a bad accident, I became extremely sick. Not only have I reached remission and finished my treatment, but I was able to continue school during that time. And possibly what I am most proud of- I have just started my Child Life Internship at Penn State Health Children's Hospital in Hershey, PA. In the field of child life, Internships currently have a 98% rejection rate as they are the last required step before becoming certified as a professional and being eligible for jobs. I sent out almost 75 applications and interviewed against masters students, and am so blessed to say my hospital chose me to be their intern for the Spring '23 semester. It is a lot of work, and I don't get paid (yet) but I get to spend every single day doing the job I have fallen in love with and being with some of the bravest kiddos ever!

How did PCS prepare you for life after high school? My answer comes back honestly to my extra curriculars. I was very into basketball during high school, but realize now that what was more important was the life lessons I was learning during my time with the team. When I was sick, I played a song Coach Mike had used in a devotional during my freshman year that I still remember to this day. Looking back, I can see so many of the lessons he taught me on the court and how they are able to translate to the person I am today- the values of hard work, integrity, self discipline, empathy, and kindness are all things he taught me on the court that I now can see in my day to day life. Coach Mike also led the mission trips to the DR- it was during those trips I realized my calling was to work with children, and how much I enjoyed being in a medical setting. I have still held on to the devotional booklets he used during those trips, and still take it out to read through when I have a rough day. I can honestly say I think Coach Mike was one of the most impactful people in my life- he helped me become the person I am today, which I am so grateful for. If it were not for PCS, I never would have met Coach Mike, and I am so thankful for the years I had to learn from him. 

Did being educated from a Biblical worldview impact your work? If so, how? YES! I did not realize it at the time, but constantly being taught Biblical truths helped me to constantly be implementing them into my daily life and ways of thinking. My job requires me to see some very hard situations, and encounter things that are extremely sad. However, I often think back to a song we sang in the Dominican which said "Break my heart for what breaks yours". I do see many broken hearts, and sometimes feel upset at the unfairness of it all- why are so many children and families hurting? But I remember that God sees that too, and it helps me to move forward and do my best to help these kids and families. 

Do you have any other thoughts you wish to share about your experience at PCS? PCS gave me the opportunity to truly make friends- something that had never been easy for me yet I had always craved. My friends became like a family- supporting me through all the highs and lows not only in high school but in the years beyond. I still talk to and am very close with several of my classmates from PCS- relationships that I am sure will last a lifetime and that are so valuable to me. Even beyond my friends, I found a supportive family that was there to love and support me even after I had left the nest. When our family was in crisis, our PCS family did not hesitate to welcome me back with open arms to give me comfort that was so desperately needed. My friends parents became like second parents to me- many are still saved in my phone as "mama *last name*"! It just shows what a loving community we have at PCS- that the relationships formed last far beyond when you leave the school, and the people will always love and support you. That feeling of love is one that is hard to describe, harder to find, and impossible to forget. 

Thank you, Erin for sharing your thoughts on PCS and we wish you the best in your new job!

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