Life experiences influence BU nursing graduate’s career in nursing

For immediate release: May 6, 2008

BLOOMSBURG — Seunghyo Hong’s life began in a rural South Korean village where he was born without the aid of doctors, nurses or public health workers. The outlook for his survival was bleak until a Buddhist monk gave spiritual advice to his mother and he began to gain strength.

Hong, a May 2008 graduate of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania’s nursing program, shared his story of survival, a story that led him to a career as a registered nurse, at the recent Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future gala fundraising event in Philadelphia. He represented two organizations that are part of the Promise of Nursing for Pennsylvania steering committee –the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), as a BU student, and the Geisinger Health System, as a registered nurse in the critical care unit. The event raised more than $550,000, with all proceeds going toward regional nursing school grants, faculty fellowships and student scholarships through the Promise of Nursing for Pennsylvania.

“Nurses who provide testimonials at the event have unique stories to tell,” said Christine Alichnie, chair of BU’s nursing department. “Hong’s desire to help others, here and internationally, speaks very highly of his individual character. After his speech, I told him that he has made Bloomsburg University proud.”

At the event, Hong talked about his birth, his childhood and the events that motivated him to become a nurse. His name, Seunghyo, given to him by the Buddhist monk who advised his mother, means that he is faithful to his family for winning the victory of life. Because of his own experience, Hong strongly believes that all mothers should have access to care from medical professionals during pregnancy and at the time of delivery.

After studying international business in South Korea, Hong came to the U.S. to explore other career possibilities. “I knew a career in business did not fulfill my dreams of giving to others the kind of care I wish my parents had been given at my birth,” he said. Hong received an associate’s degree in nursing at Union County College and a registered nurse diploma from Trinitas Hospital School of Nursing, both in Elizabeth, N.J.

His associate’s degree, he said, has served him well while caring for individuals at Geisinger. But his experience in the nursing program at Bloomsburg “has opened my eyes to the bigger picture. I see different areas of nursing that help me become a better nurse,” he said.

One of these areas of interest is international public health, which he put into action on a medical mission to Honduras last summer. “I like being able to provide more holistic nursing care,” he said.

Because of his own childhood experiences growing up in a rural environment, he finds “tremendous meaning in serving our regional population” at Geisinger Medical Center, one of the nation’s largest rural healthcare providers. “It’s my personal commitment to help others who are in need. There is a great sense of reward to see someone get better from my care, and I’ve learned a lot from patients and patients’ families that helped me become a better person.”

Through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation, which works in association with Johnson & Johnson’s Campaign for Nursing’s Future, BU’s department of nursing has received $446,629 in grants and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students, second degree and adult students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.