2024 Valedictorian: Om Shrestha’s Inspiring Journey to Pursue a Career in Healthcare

Om Shrestha, York College’s 2024 Valedictorian, will walk across the stage, proving to all that we can do hard things. He has already passed his licensing exam, set his sights on working in a surgical intensive care unit as a nurse, and is considering pursuing an advanced degree. Yet, he had fears about applying to school.

Shrestha, hailing from Nepal, faced a unique challenge in his pursuit of a career in the medical field. All his pre-college studies were conducted in Nepali, his native language. When he entered college, everything was taught in English. However, he didn't let this deter him. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Tribhuvan University in Dharan, Nepal, and a master’s degree in human anatomy at the Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) Dharan, Nepal. 

Shrestha went on to teach human anatomy to medical students in Dharan, Nepal, and China. “While it was rewarding to work with the students, I felt like something was missing,” Shrestha explained. 

Shrestha came to the United States in 2016. His career aspirations took a significant turn during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a clinical associate in the emergency room at Queens Hospital, he witnessed the selfless dedication of nurses in helping people during the most challenging times. "I saw the nurses helping people during very stressful moments; people were dying,” he recalled, highlighting his deep-seated desire to impact patient care directly. “One day, I picked up the phone, and a woman said, ‘Thank you very much for your support, what you're doing, and your service.’ I was stressed, tired and exhausted. But when she said thank you. I started praying and crying. That was the defining moment for me. I said I must get into the medical field and help people directly through patient care. “

There was one small issue: his trepidations about returning to school. When Shrestha was a youngster, his father calmed those fears by taking him by the hand and walking him to school. This time, it was his wife, Sweety Pradhan Shrestha, a York alum and a graduate of the York nursing program. She took Shrestha by the hand and walked him to the department for advisement. 

With his background, Shrestha had the aptitude and soared in his studies, connecting with his classmates and professors. “I like the idea the nursing program approaches treatment in a holistic manner. They don't see an individual as just a body. It is mental, emotional, and physical. We are also concerned about the family,” he explained. It is hard to leave it because there is comfort here and happiness here.”

“What I love most about York is seeing people from around the world. We all learn from each other. My family will be tuning in on YouTube, and I know that people will be tuning in from all over the world,” he said.

Shrestha’s thoughts on being selected Valedictorian of Class 2024: “I’m from Nepal; when they told me I was the Valedictorian, I had to Google it; we don’t have that in my country.”