2021 Commencement Week Spotlight: Vivian James, BSN

Next to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word tenacity a photo of Vivian James, 2021 Nyack School of Nursing alumna would suffice. She’s a student educated and equipped for such a time as this.

After enduring a global pandemic for more than a year, reports focused on the dwindling number of nurses has shifted to how essential nurses have been—those employed and those being asked to come out of retirement.

The School of Nursing, led by Dean Inseon Hwang, is preparing men and women who bring added value of a Christ-centered education to this healing profession. Vivian’s journey has been unlike anything she may have envisioned when she decided at seven years old that she wanted to be a nurse. Some kids share their candy or their dolls with friends. Vivian says she walked around with band aids and was eager to apply them whenever someone was injured.

Her nursing studies are only a part of why she is a woman who persists in her pursuits. In addition to being a nursing student, she is the wife of a minister who was ordained at Lion of Judah Assembly in the Bronx and the mother of four children—ages 16, 12, 9 and 8. She and her husband are expecting a fifth in September 2021. “We are so excited for what God is doing in our lives. I am always in awe that God can use His hands through mine to help bring healing to His people.

“When I started the nursing program,” she says, “I wondered how I would juggle being a wife and a mom, but God had plans. My children and my husband told me this was going to be a sacrifice, but we were in it together all the way. My family supported my long hours of studying, early morning clinicals and the fact that I was not able to be around as much.”

What fueled her determination to be successful? For starters, her youngest would say, “Mommy, you got this! We are praying for you!”

Vivian’s goal is to practice nursing in an underserved community. A Nyack College Global Service-Learning trip to Guatemala gave her the opportunity to experience that very setting. In addition to medical care, they shared the word of God in word, song and prayer.

One memory of that GS-L trip that will remain with Vivian is a night when everyone on the Nyack team was exhausted after being on their feet for hours. They learned after a very full day, they were not returning to their living quarters, but to a church where they were asked to lead the evening service.

“I do not think any of us thought we would make it. Our feet were tired and we were so sleepy, but God gave each one of us strength and the fatigue melted away. We felt refreshed when we saw the people pour into the church.”

While this experience in Guatemala demonstrated the beauty of being on mission to serve others, during her final year of studies, an unexpected life event again required God’s grace and strength. Vivian was living in the same household with her grandmother who was stricken with COVID. Sadly, she succumbed to the virus. “I was honestly devastated, but I knew she wanted me to continue to fight!” she shares. “Realizing that made me stronger.”

In the community of her fellow nursing students, together they pressed through their rigorous studies. Vivian calls their accountability to each other one of her most treasured memories of her Nyack studies. “We lifted each other up as if we were family.”

“I would tell any student considering nursing to come to Nyack. Here they will experience the love of the Lord. We encourage each other to be the best we can be and we are grateful to have faculty who believe in us. All praise and honor goes to God!”