Student of the Week: Finnuala Christensen-McElroy


Ashley Hawkins

“I’m very ambitious,” Finnuala Christensen-McElroy explained about herself. “I have a lot of goals for my life.”

Hannah Whiteside, Staff Reporter

Freshman Finnuala Christensen-McElroy was born and raised in San Francisco until the age of seven, when one of her moms got a job here in Oregon.

Her first name, Finnuala, comes from “a figure in Irish mythology,” Christensen-McElroy said. “It’s also Gaelic for ‘The Graceful One.’” 

Her great-great-grandmother on her biological mom’s side was an Irish orphan who came over to Ellis Island. “She was an orphan, so we can’t register for citizenship [in Ireland] because she doesn’t have any records,” she said.

Growing up in California was a different environment for Christensen-McElroy. She explained that Oregon has a lot more greenery with less of a need to water the plants. 

She also mentioned that she is able to take a 20-minute shower here if she wants, whereas in California, if “there’s a drought, turn off the shower and get out,” Christensen-McElroy said. 

At home, she has two moms and a twelve-year-old sister. “My sister and me are complete opposites,” she said. “I’m very shy around new people, and she’s not at all … but she definitely teaches me a lot because she’s very different.” 

Having two moms hasn’t been much different for Christensen-McElroy from anyone who has two parents; however, she said that “there’s a little bit of prejudice sometimes against it.” 

Now that she’s at La Salle, Christensen-McElroy has found it slightly difficult to adjust to the differences from her previous school, Franciscan Montessori Earth School. “I was at a middle school with like 50 kids, which is way smaller than this,” she said. “So I think adjusting to that and the amount of teachers, and homework and having to coordinate all of that was a big shift for me.” 

Despite the differences from her middle school experience, she still enjoys her classes, specifically English. “It’s a hard class, but I’ve always liked writing,” Christensen-McElroy said. “Writing is something that always has come natural to me, and I want to get better at that.” 

Having joined Speech and Debate this year, Christensen-McElroy encourages others to do so as well. “I think joining Speech and Debate was one of the best things I did because I met so many new people who were like-minded,” she said. 

Christensen-McElroy also joined the La Salle swim team as well as a club team this year. Overall, her favorite event is the 500 freestyle. “It’s more endurance; it’s not like sprinting,” she said. “I’ve never been good at sprinting, so it’s more technique-based.”  

Last year, Christensen-McElroy and her friend were able to create and put up a mural at her middle school, which she now names as one of her biggest accomplishments. “You could walk in and just have an immediate feel for the place,” she said. 

Now she is working on a petition with one of her friends to get a mural put up here at La Salle. The hope would be for visitors to see a part of the community they may otherwise miss. “If we could have that here at La Salle, maybe people who are shadowing could see some of the character the school and the community [has],” she said. 

Christensen-McElroy explained that she looks forward to joining the journalism program starting next year since she was unable to take it as a freshman. 

Journalism isn’t new to Christensen-McElroy as she and her friend started a newspaper at their middle school. “My friend had the idea,” she said. “I was the main graphic designer, so I put all the stuff together, and it was definitely a learning experience.” 

Growing up in California, where there’s a drought and many wildfires that Christensen-McElroy has had personal experience with, has caused her to want to be an environmental activist. She hopes to use her writing to bring attention to the issues specifically surrounding climate change in the future.