Updated November 2020, one year after Helena joined the Air Force!
In life, we never really know where our paths will take us.
It is common to begin in one direction then reroute. Deciding to explore the unknown leads to new opportunities.
Enter Helena Urban, our newest Shero.
Helena is very familiar with this predicament and GirlSpring had the opportunity to sit down with her and discuss life’s many pathways.
Helena was adopted from China on Valentine’s Day. This is when her journey began. As an only child, Helena says she was always in search of something attention-grabbing. “Being an only child, I really found the time to be creative and do stuff with my hands”, she recounts.
Helena remembers a time she got in trouble for writing her name in chalk on her bedroom wall. “They got me a sketchbook after that to prevent that from happening again”, she laughs. From there, Helena’s creativity blossomed. She was enrolled in the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) so that she could better develop her craft.
Helena first heard of ASFA from a friend of her mom’s. The friend described it as the “best unknown high school for the arts”.
“When I was shadowing another student, I witnessed ASFA’s diversity. The variety in courses proved this was the school for me”, she says.
At ASFA, Helena was exposed to a variety of art forms. From sketching to dancing to sculpting, I was really drawn to sculpting,” Helena says, “because it allowed me to work with my hands.” Creating pieces that are often about adoption and using a variety of Chinese symbols, she is able to illustrate her life journey thus far. Never in her life, however, did Helena think that the military would enter the plan.
After graduating from her small class of 52 students in 2018, Helena had a repetitive thought. How does one pay for college? “I was really set on the University of South Alabama and was looking for a way to pay for it. A recruiter from the military had reached out to me about joining and that initially sparked my interest,” Helena says. Her mother convinced Helena to join the Air Force and take advantage of the opportunity.
Helena broke ground on an unknown path.
While in the Air Force, Helena became a Structural Civil Engineer. “It revolves around welding, carpentry, and handiwork. I enjoy it because it allows me to very be involved with my hands”, she said. Although she was worried about her performance in Basic Training, Helena says the paperwork is most stressful. “There’s just so much,” she says, “and you have to remember every detail of your medical history. It’s almost like adopting a child there’s so much paperwork.” Helena also recounts the difficulty of the physical test. “It was really hard, but I discovered that the body is capable of more than you think. It’s all mental. You have to constantly tell yourself to keep going” she says.
After Basic Training, Helena will attend UAB. She will be studying Art with a concentration in Sculpture. When asked what she hopes to gain from the Air Force, Helena replied with, “I really hope to gain confidence, a calm mind, and self-growth.” She also hopes to develop physically. Helena’s advice for girls considering a military career is to “Always be thankful – even when you don’t know why. Gratitude creates a positive environment.”