Monica came to Penn unsure of what academic path she would pursue. Her openness to different possibilities led to one of the best decisions of her life: to explore her academic opportunities and not decide on a major immediately. During her freshman year, she took Nursing 101 and she considered nursing as a possible career for the first time. Inspired by the impact that nurses can have, Monica decided to transfer from Penn’s College of Arts & Sciences to the School of Nursing. Monica worked with her advisor and met the requirements to complete this internal transfer successfully. Through the curriculum and clinical rotations, Monica saw that she could use her natural empathy to offer her patients humane, compassionate care. She is now passionate about connecting the experiences and cultural backgrounds of her patients, to her own work as a nurse.
Monica grew up in a close-knit family in South Philadelphia in a large Cambodian community. She appreciates being able to focus on her academics while she’s on campus, but also loves having the opportunity to go home for a home-cooked meal. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Monica's time at Penn has helped her to see how she can give back to her community. When she envisions her future work as a healthcare provider advocating for women and refugee communities, she knows that she selected the right career.
The most historic city in America is your new home. Our city isn’t just about history, though. It’s a mix of then and now with an eye toward the future. A hub of art, culture, and innovation -- you will never run out of things to do in Philadelphia. Penn is also actively involved in Philadelphia. We are passionate about the city we call home and our students do more than discuss social issues, they take action.
Learn more about Penn's relationship with the City of Philadelphia here.
During one of her most rigorous clinical rotations, Monica spends four out of five days per week in the hospital. She takes classes from 9 a.m. to noon and then goes to the hospital to collect patient histories, working to understand each patient’s symptoms and medications. On some days, she will shadow nurses and spend up to six hours with patients. Sometimes she gets less sleep than she would like, but it is rewarding work. During one of her clinical rotations, she was able to communicate with a Cambodian family in Khmer, the language spoken by her family. The experience of translating and recommending care for this patient gave Monica a deep sense of personal fulfillment and strength. She felt fortunate to work so closely with the patient’s medical team to help make decisions. As a nursing student, she knows real-life experiences like these are amazing opportunities to learn.
The nursing curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania is designed for students to get a holistic understanding of their future craft, while also getting as many hands-on experiences in the field of nursing as possible. Students begin their clinical rotations as early as their Sophmore year, alongside classes ranging from the history of nursing to experiential special-topics courses such as "Women and Incarceration."
Learn more about the Nursing Curriculum.
Wanting to meet students whose life experience mirrored her own, Monica joined the Penn Minorities in Nursing Organization (MNO), where she found an important connection with her advisor, Lisa Lewis, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing, and the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusivity. Through MNO, Monica discovered a support system that included other students and together they encouraged each other. In her relationship with Dr. Lewis, she found a mentor whose transparency and guidance motivated her whenever she faced new challenges. Monica also has a work-study position with the Penn Provost's Summer Mentorship Program, which is a program that helps to prepare students to graduate from high school on-time and to matriculate at a post-secondary institution.
The Wellness at Penn initiative provides support, resources, and practical tools for wellness across the Penn community. It affirms wellness as a core priority and necessary driver of life on campus; and it offers a wide range of opportunities to reflect and engage on issues of wellness, stress, mental health, resilience, happiness, personal and academic goals, and the meaning of success.