Former refugee celebrating the beginning of her nursing career at TWU pinning ceremony

Listen to Sopari share her story with Kash Heed on Pulse 107.7.

This Friday, Trinity Western University nursing student Sopari Sor, along with 47 of her classmates, will look to the future during a special pinning ceremony that honours the past.

For the 23-year-old woman, who was born in a refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, the ceremony will be nothing short of a miracle. During Sor’s short life, she has gone from a world filled with poverty, violence and no hope of advancement to graduating from one of British Columbia’s oldest university nursing programs.

“I will feel overwhelmed and excited when I receive my pin,” says Sor. “Six years ago, I never thought this could happen in my life.”

Her path to Canada’s only private, Christian faith-based nursing degree program started at the age of 11. That’s when she got into Logos International School, an English-language school in Cambodia, thanks to help from relatives and benefactors. There, scholarships, donors and working every summer helped her be successful.

“It is my goal to eventually return to Cambodia and use the education I received to help those in need,” says Sor. “I want to work for an organization in Cambodia that provides health care assistance to women who have been sexually abused and trafficked.”

Sor’s personal transformation, academic success and passion for helping the disadvantaged are exactly the kind of attributes and goals that TWU’s nursing program seeks to nurture in students—regardless of their religious beliefs.

Sonya Grypma, the dean of TWU’s School of Nursing, notes that TWU’s Christian-based philosophy doesn’t preclude anyone who aspires to be a nurse. However, she does underscore that nursing’s Christian roots are well-recognized in Canada, going back over 400 years to Catholic sisterhoods in Quebec.

TWU is paying homage to this history with its pinning ceremony. The university is one of only a few higher educational institutions in Canada that still observe the ceremony, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.

TWU is also honouring a legacy of caring deeply for others, which underpins staff’s dedication to mentoring graduates like Sor.

“One of our core values is covenant caring,” said Grypma. “This idea that all people are created and loved by God and worthy of dignity and respect is deeply attractive to anyone who is suffering and in need of nursing skills that are both evidence-informed and deeply compassionate.”

The pinning ceremony, which occurs the day before the new nurses graduate from TWU, will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on April 29 at Willoughby Christian Reformed Church at 20525 72nd Avenue, in Langley.

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