She also co-taught Penn State undergraduates “The Art and of Science of Human Flourishing,” and “Mindfulness Tools for Helping Professionals,” and assisted this May with the Human Flourishing Summer Teaching Institute.
An enduring legacy
Janet Welsh, PRC associate research professor, attested to Berrena’s impact as a mentor. “When I was a graduate student, Elaine was my role model. She helped me learn to work with kids, parents and teachers by being calm, patient and supportive. She's very good at de-escalating situations and I learned a lot by watching her do that."
“Besides being a great model, she had a large influence on me as a researcher,” added PRC senior research associate Sarah Chilenksi. “One of the first stories she told me was about how it’s important to keep detailed records, because researchers may ask you to fill in more details regarding a particular interaction with kids during a program years after it has occurred. In the present, it's not always easy to know what is important versus what is not important, so documentation of all of those details is necessary. In some ways, she helped me learn to ‘expect the unexpected’ when it comes to data and research.”
“Many of the college students and young professionals I’ve worked with are really flourishing in the field of prevention,” Berrena said, while acknowledging her own mentors, Mark Greenberg and Karen Bierman, Evan Pugh University Professor and director of the Penn State Child Study Center.
Said Bierman, "Elaine is a natural helper with deep empathy for her fellow human beings and a passion for supporting vulnerable children and their families. I’ve been incredibly lucky to know her and work with her for the past two decades."
While she retired from her full-time position with the PRC as of July 1, she will continue helping college students, by co-teaching “The Art and Science of Human Flourishing” this fall at University Park.
When asked to sum up her career, she said, “So much of it was based upon relationships. My job was always a joy, even with the challenges.”