Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PHCC diploma is part of the American dream for aspiring nurse

When she was 8, Sophea Danh worked alongside her mother in the rice paddies and vegetable fields of Vietnam. One of four children originally from Cambodia, she did her part at an early age to help support her family.

"I was tempted sometimes to think that life wasn't fair," said Danh, now 22 and living in New Port Richey. "I knew, though, that if I worked hard enough, good things would come."

This week Danh will reap the benefits of her hard work. Today she will graduate with her associate's degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College. On Friday, she will earn the title of American citizen at a swearing-in ceremony in Tampa. And on Saturday, she will celebrate her 23rd birthday.

"I don't know how I did it, but I did," she said with a smile. "Everything is good."

Her mother, Jessica Danh, brought the family to the United States in search of opportunity. Life in Cambodia had been challenging for this divorced mother of four, and she wanted her kids to have a chance at an advanced education and a prosperous future. The family originally settled in Massachusetts, and Sophea Danh graduated from Lowell High School.

Florida's warm weather and diverse melting pot drew the family to the Sunshine State in 2009. Yet, when it came time for her to go to college, Sophea Danh initially balked at the idea.

"I didn't think I was smart enough," she said quietly. "I didn't know English very well."

Aside from the encouragement of her mother and her stepfather, Michael Bardzik, Danh also had a dream for the future. She wanted to become a nurse.

"When I was young, I had to get (stomach) surgery, and I met a nurse who took care of me so well," she said. "I thought, 'I want to be like her one day.' "

During her time at PHCC, Danh has done much to prepare for her intended career. The student who thought she wasn't smart enough for school now speaks three languages (Cambodian and Vietnamese as well as English, which she says her PHCC instructors helped her master) and she is a member of the PHCC Phi Theta Kappa honor society. This semester alone she balanced five courses with a steady regimen of study and preparation for her citizenship test, which she passed April 10.

She also continued her work at two volunteer jobs, serving as a tennis coach at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center and as an assistant at Life Care Center, a rehabilitative facility in New Port Richey.

"Our residents are always asking 'When is Sophea coming back?' " said Denise Hoban, the activities director at Life Care Center. "She always smiles and is a true joy. I wish I had more of her here."

"She's such a bright and articulate young lady," added Life Care receptionist Trish Herman. "She's caring, not only with residents, but with volunteers as well. Caring comes naturally to Sophea."

Danh enjoys talking with the residents and serving them ice cream, she said, "but somehow it doesn't seem like enough. I want to do more, which is why I want to be a nurse."

Also building on her experience at the recreation center, Danh said she might like to have a sideline as a professional tennis coach. In the meantime, she has applied for PHCC's registered nurse education program.

"Work hard" is the advice Danh gives to other immigrants who seek to make their way in America. And the benefits, in her mind, are always worth the effort.

"I used to smile only on the outside," she said. "Now I smile from the inside out. I'm so happy here."

Class of 2013

More than 370 degrees and certificates will be conferred today at Pasco-Hernando Community College's two spring commencement ceremonies to accommodate the growing number of graduates. An estimated 718 spring graduates were eligible to participate, including 408 associate in arts degree recipients.

The ceremony for students earning an associate in science degree, applied technology diploma, certificate or GED is at 10:30 a.m. For students earning an associate in arts degree, it is at 4 p.m.

Both ceremonies will be in the physical education center at the west campus at 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. Those not able to attend may also view the proceedings at phcc.edu/news/webcast-live.

PHCC diploma is part of the American dream for aspiring nurse 04/30/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 7:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Authorities say cocaine is making comeback in Florida

    Crime

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Drug enforcement officials say traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade.

    Traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade, officials say.  [Times files]
  2. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes

    National

    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  3. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  5. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

    Nation

    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]