While most middle school students watch movies like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Incredibles, 12-year-old Celine Lumowa watched the TV drama Grey’s Anatomy and YouTube videos of surgeries. So, it was no surprise to anyone in her family that the University of Colorado College of Nursing student who is graduating this month with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is going to be a surgical nurse in operating rooms.
“While it can get a bit gory in surgery, I desensitized myself as a child watching C-sections on YouTube. I was fascinated with that,” says Celine Lumowa, BSN class of 2022.
“Even more, I love the teamwork in the operating room. You’re surrounded by many levels of medical professionals and you get to see how each of them plays their role. It’s like a performance. The surgeon is the performer, and the patient is the song. Everyone else in the room is helping the performance go well.”
After Lumowa graduates and gets her state license, she’ll start a surgical specialty residency at Parker Adventist Hospital in Parker, CO as a circulating nurse and scrub nurse. She holds a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate from the Community College of Denver Auraria Campus.
Lumowa knew that she always wanted to be in health care, not just from TV, but from real-life experiences.
Lumowa was born in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2000. In 2003, when religious warfare intensified, her parents fled the country and migrated to the United States. They earned their U.S. citizenship and eventually made a new home in Aurora, among hundreds of other Indonesians where they made good friends and found a strong church community.
Lumowa raised money with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the cool weather, and in the summers, would go on missionary trips to help underserved villages in Indonesia. During the missions, she saw people line up for miles to get free medical exams and advice from the local student nurses.
Indonesian student nurses helping villagers.
“That image solidified that I wanted to be a nurse. The village population faced multiple chronic morbidities; smoking issues, heart disease and diabetes. It made me realize that I needed to be a nurse and not just in this village. There are plenty of other places in the world to make a difference. I knew I was needed,” says Lumowa.
Back home in Colorado, her mother is the exemplar of selfless caregiving. For more than 10 years, her mom has opened their home to two women with special needs. As a host home provider, Lumowa’s mother shelters and feeds the women, gives them medication, and takes them to doctor’s appointments. Lumowa is the backup caregiver when her mom takes a day off or goes on vacation.
“Some of the people with special needs in host homes can’t walk or take care of themselves because of their congenital disorders. So being a caretaker is a 24/7 job. It’s not glamorous, but it’s honorable. I’ve always respected my mom for raising me and my brother and being the primary caregiver for those two ladies,” she says.
All of those experiences combined; teamwork, missionary projects, and helping those with special needs, has led Lumowa to the biggest stage and role of her life – a registered nurse who will tend to people before, during, and after critical medical procedures.