Meet the graduate

Name: Cameron Pearson

Age: 18

School: Bend High School

Hometown: Bend (lived briefly in Beaverton and Fresno, as well)

Post-high school plans: Attend Linfield College to pursue a degree in biology

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite TV show: “Game of Thrones”

If you could hang out with a famous person for a day, living or dead, who would it be?: Robert Downey Jr.

Where would you most like to travel?: East Asia or Armenia

If Hollywood makes a movie about your life, which actor would play you?: Emilia Clarke

Editor’s Note: This is the final article in a five-part series about exceptional high school graduates in the class of 2019 across Central Oregon. This student is the outstanding grad from Bend.

Cameron Pearson said she’s painted since she “could hold a pencil,” and her work has been displayed at Bend’s First Friday Art Walk, where she won second-place in April 2018. She’s also sung in school choirs since sixth grade.

But despite her passion for the arts, Pearson, 18, wants a career in a different field of work, one that she didn’t expect to love at first: science. And she credits her teachers at Bend High School in sparking an interest in the subject.

“I would’ve never said, if you were to interview me when I was 10, that I would’ve wanted to be a scientist,” Pearson said. “But these past few years, these teachers have laid the foundation for what I know I need to do for myself.”

Pearson, who plans on attending Linfield College in the fall after graduating Saturday from Bend High, said she wants to work in the field of environmental science by earning a degree in biology.

“I care about a lot of things that are related to biology, like animals and how a lot of them are going extinct,” she said. “I also care about the atmosphere and what we’re putting into it.”

Pearson’s chemistry teacher last school year, Heidi Friesen, said she observed firsthand that Pearson had a knack for science, based on her innate drive and determination to find answers. The science teacher said that during a lab, after the data Pearson’s group collected didn’t make any sense, Pearson decided to try the experiment over again to get it just right. Although the students at first were reluctant to keep working, they eventually joined her, one-by-one.

“She demonstrated curiosity by having a fire to understand more deeply what was going on. She didn’t want to just know it; she wanted to know why,” Friesen said. “She wasn’t satisfied until that ‘why’ made sense for her.”

Pearson said she prefers a full-time job as a scientist rather than an artist because she felt painting or singing as a career would “ruin the love of art.”

“If you’re doing it for money, I feel like that changes how you look at your art,” she said. “It would add a lot of stress, and instead of looking at it as a craft, it becomes forced.”

Still, art has played a major role in Pearson’s life since she was a toddler, when her mother started collecting her unicorn drawings. Much of her work has been in watercolors or acrylics, and she pull ideas and motifs from pop culture, she said, whether it’s TV shows like “Game of Thrones,” or musicians like K-pop group BTS.

“I’m inspired a lot by music,” she said. “You can really feel an emotion in music, and put that into your own perspective and view on things.”

Her love of music extends to singing. She takes regular voice lessons and is a soprano in Bend High’s choir. She said singing is like acting to her, in that you can portray an emotion for the audience and make people feel something.

“Even if I’ve never experienced a song’s (story) ... I can really empathize with the artist and feel what they feel, and then, I can mimic that,” she said. “I think that’s what’s really powerful about music.”

Pearson’s art teacher at Bend High, Jesse Lockwood, said she’s grown as an artist in the past year. He said some of Pearson’s work could be considered professional.

“She’s very diligent on the quality of her work; she puts a lot of effort into it,” Lockwood said. “She’s in here a ton, always working on stuff.”

Pearson said her time in Bend — she briefly lived in Fresno, California, and Beaverton during her elementary years — has helped her channel her passions into productive work, both in art and science.

“Growing up, I have definitely sharpened my skills to be more useful for the future,” she said. “Because I moved here, and I got to be able to be in this school, which amazing teachers have helped me through, I have become a more powerful individual.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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