Brooke Schultz – Alumni Spotlight
Meet Brooke Schultz, a 2010 PALCS graduate who is now a Registered Nurse with Burrell School District, where she works with students primarily in K-5th grade. Brooke also works with Maxim Healthcare, providing one-on-one nursing care for medically fragile children. Over the past few months, Brooke has also been working in her local industrial park doing COVID-19 employee screenings upon entry.
Switching to Cyber
Brooke grew up in her local school district and came to PALCS her 10th grade year. “I had always been an honor roll student until 9th grade, when the school environment became unstructured with lots of class distractions,” Brooke explains, “my parents knew I wasn’t reaching my full potential.”
At first, Brooke wasn’t keen on the idea of switching to cyber school, but she agreed to try it for a year. After just a few months, she could have never imagined going back to her brick and mortar school. “I went to the office for orientation, chose a class schedule, and walked away with a whole new mindset on cyber education. I went from rebellious to impressed within minutes,” Brooke exclaims.
Becoming a Leader
After starting at PALCS, Brooke became actively involved in PALCS Student Government. She was head of many committees, including prom, yearbook, and forum. She explains that she was “impressed by the structure, student participation and leading, and the amount of socialization with classmates [this opportunity] provided.”
For two years, Brooke had a school-wide leadership project called “Mission Green”, encouraging a decrease in energy to save resources. Her junior year, she was the only junior inducted to the National Honor Society. During her PALCS Student Government tenure, Brooke was a Senator for two years, and then Sergeant of Arms her 12th grade year.
Brooke was also voted prom queen during her senior year. “I wouldn’t say that I was a typical prom queen at all- I wasn’t a cheerleader, or very popular,” Brooke explains, “However, I was friendly, involved with activities, and a known leader. Being prom queen is something I never thought would happen, but of course, it’s a little girl’s dream!”
While being involved in Student Government and completing a leadership class with Mr. Parris, Brooke explains how she gained a mentor. “Hands down, I will never forget Mr. Parris. I first met him in 10th grade and he was a mentor to me ever since. Mr. Parris encouraged me to break out of my shy shell, and formed me into a leader. He sees each student as an individual instead of a whole class and really pushes you to reach your own potential. I have him to thank for a large part of my positive PALCS experience!”
In addition to being involved in school, Brooke also volunteered at a local food bank for many years. Her hard work and dedication earned her a Leadership Certificate upon graduation.
As a result of taking extra classes each year prior, Brooke only needed a few credits to graduate her senior year. “With my extra school time, I enrolled at Westmoreland County Community College to begin my prerequisite nursing classes.” She took her college courses online with the exception of testing, “so it wasn’t too much different than what I was used to,” Brooke comments. “At a brick-and-mortar school, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to take so many credits in a school day to do this. Doing dual enrollment gave me a jumpstart to my nursing career!”
After graduating from PALCS in 2010, Brooke attended Citizens School of Nursing to pursue an RN license. Her mother, a quadriplegic, inspired her nursing career post-graduation.
“When I was 4, my mom suddenly became a quadriplegic,” Brooke explains of her up-bringing. Being the youngest child in the family, she grew up being her mom’s helper, not really knowing life any different.
“My mom was in and out of the hospital my entire life, often in the ICU. There were always visiting nurses coming to our house for various things, and they always told me I should be a nurse.” For years though, she didn’t want to. “I didn’t know what [I wanted to do], but I wanted to do something completely different.” It wasn’t until 12th grade when she realized she really was born to be a nurse.
One of her biggest accomplishments include passing her state board test, and becoming a registered nurse. “I’ve been able to use the skills I gained growing up with my mom, including compassionate care and a giving heart. I attended nursing school with my now husband of almost 6 years, which is something not many people can say they did!”
“My mom unexpectedly passed away last summer, but I will always carry her strength, compassion, and huge heart with me. She stays in the back of my mind each day while I’m with patients. Looking back, being cyber schooled through high school was an absolute blessing, because of the amount of time I was able to spend with her. She was my complete inspiration to be a nurse and I never saw her more proud of me than when I graduated with my degree,” Brooke reflects on her cyber experience.
Brooke stands behind the quote PALCS Makes it Possible. “My high school journey undoubtedly helped me grow into who I am today. I gained leadership, creativity, and critical thinking skills, grew to be independent and confident… I could go on and on!” She explains that “there’s no doubt in my mind that PALCS changed my life for the better. After just my first year, I couldn’t imagine returning to my former school. I had a better high school experience than imagined, and am a proud graduate
Thank you Brooke, for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing your story with us. We truly appreciate it and are so incredibly proud of you, keep chasing your dreams!