INDEPENDENCE — Atalin Venegas, 18, wants to pursue a career where she can help other people.
The Central High School senior plans to go into nursing. Though she hasn’t started that program yet, she’s already put some of her CPR training to the test.
On her 18th birthday, March 20, Venegas had unexpected rite of passage — she saved someone’s life.
“I was going on a walk with most of my family,” Venegas said. “My dad stayed behind to work on a car with this car mechanic guy in the backyard.”
A short time after they left, her dad called and said something was wrong, she said.
“So we just all get back there as fast as we can,” Venegas said.
Her dad was trying to wake the man, she said.
“I finally convinced them to get him on the ground and that I was certified in CPR from Mr. (Keith) Omlid’s class,” Venegas said. “I was just like ‘OK, this is happening. I learned what to do, so now I gotta do it and do it right.’ Obviously, you only get one chance at this. I just buckled down and dropped all my emotions at the door and got to work.”
She and her brother alternated giving the man chest compressions until the paramedics arrived, she said.
“He ended up being OK,” Venegas said. “It was pretty crazy. I just went right back to my normal life.”
Venegas mentioned the incident to her English teacher, Benjamin Gorman.
He asked if he could email Superintendent Jennifer Kubista about the incident.
Venegas said she received a response almost immediately asking her to participate in a ceremony.
“I’m glad it happened, but I felt kind of bad for going,” Venegas said.
She said she doesn’t like “being the focus.”
Venegas does enjoy singing, writing and creating digital art.
The art she creates is for herself and other people.
“I just draw people, not animals or backgrounds,” she said.
Typically, she receives requests from fellow students who, for example, want to see how a character they are writing about would look, but she is working on offering the service online.
Venegas said she is working on a long-term project for herself at the moment.
“I don’t know if I want it to be a visual novel or I just want it to be text,” she said, “I at least want to get an idea of what these characters would look like in the world, so I’ve been drawing some sketches and some art pieces of them. I have some character sheets on my desktop at home. I’m really hoping to get it made at some point when I have the time.”
She hopes to eventually get it published so other people can enjoy the story.
As for her career choice, helping others was a priority when Venegas was considering her options.
“I always wanted something that would really make a positive impact on people’s lives, not just like money or fun for me,” she said. “That always felt kind of selfish, at least in my opinion.”
Another draw to nursing is the science involved.
“As a kid, growing up in school, I was really interested in sciences,” Venegas said. “I’ve always found it really fascinating, learning how things work.
Venegas got a sample of nursing while she fulfilled her volunteer hours with Angela Billman, the district nurse.
She helped Billman in the office with different tasks, including organizing the filing.
Billman said she appreciated the work she did and enjoyed having her there.
“She’s a really special person,” Billman said. “I can’t wait to see what she does.”
Venegas hopes to eventually land a job as a nurse practitioner at a clinic — something with set hours, she said.
“I’m planning to go to Western Oregon University to study pre-nursing,” she said. “After I have my two years, I’ll apply to a nursing school, whether that be their satellite campus at OHSU or just apply to any other school in the country. My ideal is Northeastern University in Boston. I’ll have to work really hard for that one.”