We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:
Victoria Lawson ’21
Surgical Technology and Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
“For many years, I have felt a draw to be in the operating room. My mother is a Registered Nurse, so the medical field has always been a huge part of my life and is what attracted me to this specialty,” shares Victoria Lawson, a student in both our Surgical Technology and B.S. in Health Sciences programs. During middle and high school, she volunteered in the nursing home where her mother was the Director of Nursing. This opportunity – to visit with residents and help where she could – allowed Victoria to see patients as people, and not just their diagnosis. It shaped her views on the importance of patient-centered care.
In order to get a jumpstart on her college education, as a junior in high school Victoria took part in PA College’s dual enrollment program. She was able to complete 36 credits toward her degree by the end of her senior year in high school. “I am a strong advocate for the dual enrollment program,” offers Victoria. “This program is an invaluable way for high school students to take meaningful classes that are directly applied toward both their high school diploma and their college degree.”
After graduating from high school, Victoria also became a patient care assistant and a phlebotomy technician at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital. During the coronavirus pandemic, she assisted in the hospital’s COVID-19 unit, as well as with the (then) COVID-19 testing site in our campus parking lot. On track to earn her associate degree in Surgical Technology in May 2021 and her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences the following August, Victoria’s ultimate goal is to become a Surgical Physician Assistant.
During her precious free time when not in school or at work, Victoria enjoys spending time with her family in Southern Lancaster County. They are outdoor enthusiasts and avid travelers who enjoy vacationing in tropical and beach destinations. Victoria is also active in her church.
Anna Pham ’14 ’16, RN, BSN
Emergency Department Nurse, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital
Raised in Vietnam, at age 17 Anna Pham emigrated to the United States with her family. The transition to a new country and a new language was not easy. Anna explains: “With limited English, I would have never thought that I would be able to go to college. I still remember my first day of high school in America. I sat in class and didn’t understand a word that the teacher said. I didn’t do homework because I didn’t understand the instructions. With the support of my family and my high school guidance counselor, I was able to realize the importance of going to school and continuing my education. I believe in hard work and that you can do anything if you have a goal and you are trying your best.”
Anna began her college education at Harrisburg Area Community College to further perfect her English before enrolling in PA College to study nursing. Following her belief that when you teach, you also learn, Anna worked as a peer tutor at the college. Soon after earning her ASN degree in 2014, she also volunteered at a health clinic in Lancaster working with homeless and other underserved populations. Of her time at PA College, Anna shares: “I felt that my instructors were like my friends as well as my parents. I could come to them anytime with any questions and concerns regarding not only classroom materials but also life experiences. PA College helped me realize my potential and helped me become a confident healthcare individual today.” Anna was a member of Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society, graduated Cum Laude and received the Outstanding Graduate Award when she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2016.
After graduation, Anna began her nursing career on a medical-surgical floor at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital. During this time, she participated as a facilitator for the Future Nurses Club at the hospital, traveling to Warwick High School to teach students about simple medical topics and tell them about nursing career options. Anna then went on to work at Urgent Care for a year and a half, but soon realized that the wanted to pursue a role in the Emergency Department. Transferring there in August 2019, Anna has been enjoying her latest role and is working toward her trauma certification and emergency room nurse certification. She is also a Vietnamese LEAP (Linguistic Employee Advancement Program) interpreter for the hospital. “I am very proud of this certificate since I am able to help patients who do not speak English feel more comfortable going to the doctors,” adds Anna.
Within the past year, Anna also worked with Daniel Weber, a retired physician and founder of the Latin American Doctor Association in Lancaster. She created a project called RN Professional Panel, inviting a few nurses from different backgrounds to share with Cuban doctors what nurses do in the United States. “Since these professionals cannot practice as doctors in the U.S., they are hoping to explore different opportunities in health care, and nursing is one of their biggest interests,” Anna explains.
Anna and her fiancé live in Lancaster and are looking forward to their wedding later this month. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking, taking road trips to the beach and traveling to new places. In 2019, Anna returned to Vietnam for her first medical mission trip. She describes this as an amazing opportunity to provide medical care and counseling for patients in need. She also enjoyed the chance to visit her extended family. Of her nursing career so far, Anna shares: “I am proud of my hard work and positivity. Because of this, I was able to prove to the world that there is nothing that you can’t do.”
Seeking People of PA College
Do you know an exceptional current student or alumnus whose experiences and accomplishments would help tell the PA College story? Or someone who has overcome an obstacle or reached a challenging milestone during their PA College experience? Please email your suggested names (and identify them in one of these categories) to Karen Jenkins. Self-nominations are also welcome!