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What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

by Nov 1, 2019

Home » Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Student Blog » What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

I will bet at least a few times in life you have been asked what you wanted to be when you grow up. I know that I have! The last couple of weeks have been filled with so many eye-openers—reassurances actually—that I am on the right path for me.

I was raised by hard-working parents who were not too hard on me. My parents came to the U.S. around the late 70s/early 80s during the time when Cambodia had fallen apart, and to this day is still recovering from the genocide. I remember the first time I visited the city of both of my parents; while both were from the same city, they were Yin and Yang as individuals. On my father’s side, as farmers, all the families were naturally focused on agriculture and the fields. Each day they came home sunburned, leathery in appearance, with muddy and soggy feet from being knee-high in muddy water. There was usually some blood from leeches latching onto their calves, yet they were still smiling, because that was their life and they made the best of it. Out of nine children, my late father was the only one who left his village to go to the city and earn an education as a civil engineer.

On my mother’s side, everyone was either a doctor, or business person in conjunction with the government. However, my mother only finished her high school diploma, because she had to support the family. She felt honored that her sister-in-law took her under her wing. She was the second to the youngest of seven children. Every one of her siblings went to school or trained to better their status in the workforce. Each day she was awakened at 3 a.m. to start the process of prepping and cooking dessert delicacies and other special dishes to be sold at the palace.

My parents to me are the total opposite of one another, Yin and Yang opposites that seemed to balance each other. But no matter what, both worked hard as they came to a country that was privileged. They knew what hard work was, and they pushed me to be the best I can be.

I didn’t have the experience of waking up too early and getting muddy. Whether those paths may be the same or different from what I have chosen, I know this is my path. National has given me a reminder and pushed me to be the best version of myself. This past weekend, 50 NUHS students got the chance to go to Standard Process for a kind of field trip. Program-wise we were a mixture of AOM, DC, and ND students.

Rina 1

We kind of migrated every now and then into each other’s groups, but most of the time we ended up staying in our packs. It’s interesting. It was like watching packs of wolves keeping up with one another and having each other’s backs, sitting in the same row or sides, sectioned out. But when it came to food, we all stood in line mixing and matching, then then back to our groups. Whichever path we have chosen in our academic careers, there were a few students who happened to stray and join another group. This is how it’s going to be in the real world: We won’t be able to continue to stay in our groups, but will eventually work with and collaborate with others to treat our patients.

Rina 2

As my parents were on opposite sides of the same country and came together in the U.S., so the students on the field trip stayed with one another, yet eventually migrated to other groups. Yet we all work together. Everyone is unique and therefore valuable according to their upbringing, history, and education. I love different cultures, collaborations, and ideas to push for a better health care system.

Rina 3

It was a great reminder that I am not only in a program with amazing students with my same focus, but part of a larger group of future colleagues who will come together for the healing of our patients. We are an eclectic group. Even a little crazy at times. The world better be ready for us!

: )

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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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