In the middle of an uprising in 2011, Upasana Nepal and her family fled their homeland; one of the poorest countries in the world that’s their namesake, Nepal. Under a United Nation’s program, the family landed in Aurora where they made a new life. But she’s never forgotten her past. Nepal’s life as a refugee paved the way for the University of Colorado College of Nursing student to join the military and become a nurse.
“Being a refugee has made a big impact on me. All of those experiences have made me very resilient. I am culturally sensitive because of what I’ve been exposed to,” says Upasana Nepal, Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, class of 2022.
Shortly after moving to Aurora, Nepal got a job as a patient care coordinator at the Aurora Mental Health Center where she worked with refugees from across the world. She calls it a “privilege” because she also got to work in the nearby Refugee Clinic and help people from different cultures navigate the healthcare system. That’s also where Nepal found her calling.
“I got to work with a lot of nurses and saw the impact they have in our community. That sparked a fire in me for nursing,” Nepal says. “It’s such a versatile career; I can be bedside or teach or wear many different hats. I knew I wanted to help my community and nursing fit the bill. In Nepal, we didn’t have adequate or quality health care. I will do my best here to provide that for people.”
While she wanted to become a nurse, Nepal and her family couldn’t afford college. So, she joined the U.S. Air Force to earn a GI bill that paid her tuition. For a while, she was a full-time soldier working in human resources and a full-time student at CU College of Nursing.
“I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to get in eight hours of work to be able to start school at 2:00 p.m. I had no social life. I was just on my computer studying, working, studying, working and cooking a little bit. It was hard to manage, but it shows the grit that I had.”
During school, Nepal did a rotation with pediatrics and found her niche. She realized she loves helping children and wants to work with them. Nepal says her experience working with families from other cultures will come in handy.
“When you are in the pediatric world, the child is not the only patient. Their whole family is involved. I look forward to being able to talk to parents differently than I communicate with the children. I’ve learned how to approach the different family dynamics and families who are refugees. It requires lots of patience and understanding to provide them with holistic care,” says Nepal.
For now, the student who’s been a refugee and an airman is focusing on her newest life - becoming a nurse. She graduates on May 27, 2022, will take her state licensing exam, and start working for Children’s Hospital in a clinic with children who need special care.