The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Donahue Institute

Institute News

UMDI's HCOP student selected to attend conference at Harvard Medical School

By Mary McClintock, GCC Alumni '82

GCC Health Science student Sisomphone Vongphakdy’s dream of becoming a nurse in a Boston hospital got a big boost in February when she attended the Biomedical Science Careers Program Conference at Harvard Medical School.  Sisomphone was one of 300 students from across the United States chosen from over 1,200 applicants to attend the conference.  Sisomphone will enter GCC’s Practical Nursing Program in Fall 2010.

After the Practical Nursing program, she will study toward an Associate Degree in Nursing at GCC and a Bachelor’s in Nursing at a Boston area college.

At the conference, Sisomphone and students from community college through graduate school heard speakers, attended workshops, and met many professionals, including heads of hospitals and directors of nursing.  Sisomphone said, “I was very honored to attend such a wonderful conference.  I spoke with the Director of Nursing Diversity at Children’s Hospital in Somerville.  She and the other speakers encouraged us to find a mentor and to get experience in medical settings.  I already have four years experience working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in nursing homes and doctor’s offices.”

Sisomphone was born in Laos, lived in Thailand, and moved with her family to Boston, eventually settling in Saugus.  Sisomphone’s family came to the U.S. to give her more opportunities.  As a child she decided she wanted to become a nurse and help people.  Sisomphone attended a nursing course at a Vocational Technical High School and graduated with honors and a nursing assistant certificate.

Sisomphone moved to South Deerfield to live near friends and started studying Health Science at GCC in 2007.  She said, “I was nervous about returning to school.  I decided to attend GCC because of the high academic passing rate for the nursing course, smaller classes and the diversity in age.  I love the professors at GCC.  They are very nice and willing to help you when needed.”

Sisomphone’s advisor, Lou Peugh, encouraged Sisomphone to attend the conference because she is a strong student interested in going beyond the basics.  Peugh said, “Last summer, Sisomphone participated in the Pioneer Valley Health Careers Opportunity Program at Springfield College to learn about health careers, observe professionals in clinical settings, and develop career plans.  My hope is that students will come in contact with new ideas that can spark their imaginations to think big.  Sisomphone is thinking big and her experience will encourage other students to take advantage of learning opportunities in the community.”

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