Sukjoon Lee’s Tie to Nyack’s School of Nursing

May 6 is the beginning of the nationwide observance of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, the birthdate of modern nursing pioneer, Florence Nightingale. Since 1993, the American Nurses Association has celebrated the profession and the contributions of a reported 4 million registered nurses in our nation.

Nyack’s Cheryl Phenicie School of Nursing will hold a celebration of its own at the annual Nursing Pinning Ceremony on May 10 at 2:00 p.m. in Pardington Hall on the Rockland County campus.

More than ever before, unprecedented numbers of men are choosing the field of nursing as a career. Sukjoon Lee, one of the four men graduating from Nyack’s School of Nursing says, “I like to think nursing chose me.” Not only did nursing find him, but so did Nyack College. He admits, “I had no idea the school existed.”

There was period when Sukjoon had left the church. But eventually in his search for a sense of belonging, he returned to the church. His pastor, Leo Jang, who attended Alliance Theological Seminary mentioned Nyack College to him. Nyack kept coming up in conversations, but he hadn’t decided on studying nursing. In fact, he says, “My biggest prayer request during that time was for God to show me where I needed to go. That was my desperate prayer for a while.”

Clarity on his future came in gentle nudges.

Sukjoon recalls a time when he worked at a gym when a member who was a male ER nurse told him about his desire to see more people to go to the gym to become healthier and to avoid health crises; and in some cases, even fatalities.

When nursing landed on his radar, as a commuting student, he considered going to a local community college. In what might be called a “chance encounter,” he met a friend who he hadn’t seen in 10 years. She was transferring to Nyack College to enroll in the nursing program.

“I had no idea that Nyack even had a nursing program,” he shares. “So I inquired about Nyack. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get in. I heard it was very competitive and you needed high grades to get in and I didn’t have those grades. But he was admitted. “It’s been a blessing…a lot of grace and mercy that brought me to this school.”

But it didn’t exempt Sukjoon from the challenging rigors of nursing studies.

He recounts, “Near the end of the first semester of junior year, I had failed my Unit Three exam and was devastated. I was unsure that nursing was for me and felt like a failure.” But as is par for the course with Nyack nursing students, they banded together and each contributed to a study guide to get through their exams.

Sukjoon’s crushing “failure” happened around the Christmas holiday.

“The nursing faculty was hosting a party and I didn’t feel like going,” he recalled. “My professors encouraged me to go and not worry so much about the exam and to trust in God’s plan.” A part of the celebration included secret Santa gifts. As the tradition goes, each guest received a number and would select a random gift that matched the number.

Sukjoon explains, “I was the only male student who was at the party. The faculty was surprised and relieved that I received the one gift that they prepared that was for a man. One of my professors told me that it was perfect and that I should wear it to graduation.”

Sukjoon recalls, “There are so many more moments that made me realize how great and real God’s love is. I am thankful for every one of them.” In fact, one moment stands out—the secret Santa gift.

“That tie is still hanging up in my room and I am overwhelmed and in awe that I will be wearing it to graduation.”