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by Apr 24, 2020

Namaste means that whatever is precious and beautiful in me, honors whatever is precious and beautiful in you. I never liked goodbyes, that’s why I never say them. Bye (pronounced “bai”) in my language actually means “rice”. As you know me by now, I am a goof. I make jokes about everything or always add some humor, but there is a reason for all my quirks. I am always known as “that woman with a smile”.

Maybe the life experiences of more than a decade changed me to smile more. I have been working in so many areas of the health care field. In the ER, standing head-to-chest with a patient who was two times my height, and triple my weight, their eyes showing only loss and rage. In the adult ICU where a patient asked me to hold their hand with no family or family member around, because they were scared to die alone. In the pediatric ICU where multiple times I was fully masked in a young patient’s room, drawing near to them and keeping them company, because their parents worked. In the neonatal ICU, cuddling a baby while feeding them, because they came too soon to this world. At the side of the bed, coaching and coaxing a woman who was about to be a first-time mom. Those were my lessons to know that I had to be there, at that “right” time.


Each of us goes through life in a unique way; we are supposed to. Even if we have the perfect plan, there is always a certain disruption to make it a positive or negative experience. We hope to be with a certain person, or people, but at times they have to leave. However, that doesn’t mean the end of that relationship, it can mean you are to learn from it, and to be better prepared for the next one.

I will be graduating, but due to current events and recent circumstances, the ceremony will be canceled. I had the perfect dress, heels, makeup, and hair already planned. The perfect pose to stand in from of the camera with my degree, some goofy poses–each different with my boyfriend, my mom, my family, and friends. In the last week of school at National, I was going to dedicate it, and say thank you to each and every one of my professors, colleagues, school faculty friends, and acquaintances. Those with whom we had good times together, those who have made such a great impact in my life.

Goodbye is farewell but a good “bai” is food to nourish the body. Whatever I had to do in those situations, I will always leave smiling. Each person, place, thing, and scenario were all planned before us. In the ER, the giant who came at me, filled with rage as he yelled and cried with anguish at losing his family and job, became a gentle giant as I sat and listened. The person dying in the ICU, as I held their hand and they said they are at peace before taking their last breath. The children who hugged me, even with my mask on, to say thank for playing with them when they were scared of being alone in the room. The babies I held as they somehow gripped my finger, as if to say, “I will continue to stay and grow strong.”  The cry of relief in that last push from a woman who now is now a grateful mother, thanking me as we watched the umbilical cord be clamped. This academic journey at National was the essential nourishment for my life’s path. I may not have the last walk across that stage to accept the degree representing fulfillment of my late father’s wish. To be able to present it to my mom, who was my rock through this whole time. But the journey is much more rewarding, because I know it doesn’t stop there: it’s only beginning for me.

In whatever situation, I knew I had to be there. God put me there. He had plans for me, and will continue to have plans for me. I am beyond blessed with everything I am and all that I have. Anything after this will be more of just heaven blessing me with angel dust to fly higher than I can ever imagine!

So thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for staying with me throughout this academic journey to share tears, laughter, and smiles. I always tell everyone, “testings before a blessing”. Start with a plan, work through the lessons, and in the end, come to the finish with a smile, because you will never know who is watching and learning. Blessings and much love. Namaste.

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About the Author

Rina Sem

Rina Sem

Rina Sem is a student at the Lombard, Illinois campus studying in the Master of Science-Oriental Medicine program. Though working in the medical field for 10 years, she is keeping the promise she made to her father to complete her master’s degree. Rina is a first-generation American of Cambodian heritage, and passionate about her studies in the field of complementary and alternative medicine.


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