How I Got Ready: Soua’s Story

Soua Lee ’19 remembers watching family and friends in the Hmong community postpone or decline treatments or surgery in favor of traditional remedies or healing rituals. When their health failed to improve, the patients then reconsidered their doctors’ recommendations, but it was sometimes too late.

“Growing up, it was a challenge for me to see how much of a struggle there was between the Hmong culture and modern medicine,” Lee says. “There was a lack of understanding and education present, which often lead to irreversible consequences. I want to help bridge that gap between traditional Hmong medicine and modern medicine. That is why I became a nurse: To help educate, support, guide, advocate, and everything else that entails what a nurse is.”

Lee’s path to nursing school wasn’t straight or smooth. By the time she enrolled at Alverno, she was 31, had two young kids, and had already tried other colleges that weren’t a good fit. Encouraged by several friends who were Alverno alumnae, she decided to visit and immediately felt at home.

“After attending a few institutions, I realized that finding the right school to fit my needs was very important,” Lee says. “I knew that Alverno had a reputable nursing program, and the idea of a small campus and an all-female environment, where women empower one another, was appealing to me. The best part about Alverno’s nursing program is the smaller class sizes, which means more one-on-one time with our professors, and professors really care about the success of their students. In comparison to other institutions that I have attended, the amount of support that I have received at Alverno is unlike any other.”

But Alverno’s environment also took some getting used to.

“Alverno is not your traditional college, and that’s what makes it so unique and special,” she explains. “I admit that it took some time for me to adjust. When I was able to embrace these differences, I realized that the nontraditional grading system made me strive to do my best, because there were no letter grades or percentages to just get by. Self-assessments are not given to irritate and annoy students — they’re a valuable learning tool to evaluate your work and discover improvements. Here at Alverno, it’s not just about academics. There’s an emphasis on personal growth, professional development, and becoming that strong woman that we all know we can be.”

During Lee’s time at Alverno, her family grew from two kids to four. “I was more determined than ever to finish on time despite having two additional children,” she says. “I am most proud of myself for having the determination and commitment to push through. There were definitely difficult times where I questioned my decisions on whether or not the path that I chose was the correct one. Looking back, I am very thankful that I kept moving forward and was able to accomplish so much.”

Lee is currently employed as a medical surgical nurse specializing in orthopedics. Eventually, she hopes to earn her master’s degree in nursing and then become a nurse practitioner focused on women’s health and maternal wellness. She’s confident that Alverno gave her a strong foundation for her next step.

“Alverno has prepared me for the next step by instilling the 8 Abilities in me,” she says. “By utilizing these 8 Abilities, I not only became a better student, I am well equipped and prepared for the professional world.”

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