We’re inspired each day by the stories you share that show how you’re #AerieREAL. This week we wanted to highlight an incredible story from Aerie girl, Vallena Lipske. Having overcome some serious adversity growing up, she’s grown into an inspiring woman who’s certainly worth your follow! Get to know more about her after this adorable pic of her and her pup.
Aerie: Hi, Vallena! Tell us a little about yourself!
I grew up in a small earthy town in Northern California. Growing up, I spent my time outdoors; playing volleyball, hiking, going to the beach, and hanging out with my best friends (we still spend all of our time together whenever we’re home from our universities for summer).
I think a lot of my values came from home; here we all respect and support each other for our strengths and differences. In fact, our most recent paddleboarding excursion resulted in myself paddle-sitting while our most athletic friend did the paddling (no judgments made).
I recently moved across the country to Pennsylvania (Villanova University) to pursue my goal of getting my Bachelors of Science in Nursing to become a Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner. And I couldn’t be happier. I love everything about nursing, and helping others, it truly is my passion.
I’m now in the committee running one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the US and this next year, I’ll be the Vice President of Membership of my sorority, Kappa Delta. I can’t wait to welcome the next class of freshmen into Kappa Delta and share our values of respect, diversity , and confidence with them.
Aerie: What does #AerieREAL mean to you?
Vallena: To me, #AerieREAL means celebrating being authentic, unique, confident, and #unretouched, inside and out.
Aerie: What makes you #AerieREAL?
Vallena: At a young age, I was diagnosed with Stage Four Neuroblastoma. I underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and had an intense surgery that left me with a twelve-inch scar across my abdomen. I used to be embarrassed of my scar, but I’ve learned to love myself for all of who I am. My scar is now a source of liberation, pride and confidence constantly reminding me that I’ve been given the opportunity to thrive and help others.
As a college-aged girl, I know how difficult it is to be authentic and confident. But, living true to my values and surrounding myself with people who respect those values has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. In my opinion, that’s what being #AerieREAL is. Nothing feels better than being true to yourself, despite what others may think.
Aerie: Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Vallena: In 3 years, I see myself working as a Pediatric Oncology nurse, giving the kind of care to children that I was so lucky to receive myself.
Aerie: What’s your favorite inspirational quote?
Vallena: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This quote (actually a question) by Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, never fails to remind me to be grateful for the life I get to live, and that I have the opportunity to choose my attitude and future each day.
Aerie: What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Vallena: My biggest accomplishment this summer was becoming fluent in Spanish while in Spain. I got a glimpse of what it felt like to live in a foreign country with a different primary language. I know my knowledge of Spanish will make a great difference in the lives of my Spanish-speaking patients when I’m a nurse.
Aerie; Do you have a role model? If so, who is he or she, and why does he or she inspire you?
Vallena: One of my biggest role models is my “big sister” in my sorority, Brianna. She embodies what it means to be #AerieREAL. She’s proud of who she is and lives true to her values. She balances her academic life (she’s also a nursing student), social life (she was vice-president of our sorority last year and is an amazing dancer), and physical life (she exercises, always motivated by her health, rather than image). I’ve never heard her make a negative comment about her body, or anyone else’s. Her confidence and positivity radiate to everyone around her and make them more comfortable in being who they are.
Aerie: Favorite song to listen to in the car or working out?
Vallena: The song “Roar” by Katy Perry never fails to leave me with that I can do anything feeling.
Aerie: What’s your favorite part of the day?
Vallena: The morning 100%! I love having a cup of coffee, watching the sunrise, and thinking about all the possibilities the day holds.
Aerie: Do you have a secret talent, skill or quirk? Do tell!
Vallena: I absolutely love dancing, but not your typical dancing. Not the kind of dancing where you take a dance class and you’re told what to do. Not the kind of ballroom dancing that I did in middle school. Not even the kind of dancing at our sorority mixers. I’m talking about around the house while doing dishes, dancing on the porch jumping up and down, scaring your brother in the other room dancing.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Vallena! You can follow Vallena on Instagram and Twitter, too.
Share YOUR Aerie REAL story with us and tag your photo with #AerieREAL.