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July 24, 2020

Alumni Spotlight: Santhiny Rajamohan '94 (Nursing) - My Journey Through Uncertain Times….

The purpose of me sharing a small part of my life journey is to give my God the glory and share how His faithfulness and mercy help me persevere through life and rise above my circumstances.  I have learned over the years to replace my victim mentality with victor mentality based on God’s promises, prayers and my faith walk. 

I was born and raised on a small island called Sri Lanka which is off the south coast of India.  I am the youngest of four.  I have two sisters and a brother. Our father was a principal and my mom was an elementary school teacher.  Even though it was a developing country, our parents were well off and gave us what we needed and wanted growing up.  They were hard-workers and did farming on the side in addition to being teachers.  I have fond memories of enjoying tropical fruits all year long and climbing trees to look for bird nests and baby birds as a hobby.

My parents had big dreams for us; I was the chosen one to go to medical school to become a doctor. Our childhood dreams and our future became so uncertain when the civil war started in 1983 due to ethnic tension.  There are two ethnic groups, the majority group Singhalese and the minority group Tamil. We were part of the minority group.  As the result of the civil war, schools and universities would close unexpectedly. Our future became uncertain when our uncle, who was a passenger on a bus, was murdered due to bombing by the military.  Because of unpredictable living conditions and oppression along with fear for our lives, my parents took early retirement and moved our family to Toronto in 1990.  We had to leave everything known to us and left with a suitcase full of clothes to start a new life in Toronto.

Though I lived through several challenging times and was scared to death of my unknown future, I felt comforted knowing God was with me.  I was very thankful that my parents were able to move our family to a safer country where our lives were not threatened.  Since my education from Sri Lanka was in my native language, Tamil, I had to repeat one year of high school in Scarborough, to obtain my diploma in English which would allow me to attend college.  I did not think It would be possible for me to even attend college because it was not an easy transition to adjust to a new culture and a new language. 

During that time of uncertainty, God was preparing a way for me.  We met a pastor, Dr. N. Lysander at a South Indian church where they did services in our native language.  Dr. Lysander was one of the Board of Trustees for Roberts Wesleyan College, and he took an interest in helping our family and told us about Roberts. 

We had no idea how we would even consider going to a private college in the US when we had no money to our names.  God worked in mysterious ways.  He opened the door for my sister and I to start at Roberts the following August 1991.  I pursed my nursing degree and my sister did a degree in business. In addition to loans and scholarships, my mom’s prayers, support from my siblings, my father also worked 60 hours a week as a security guard making it possible for us to attend Roberts.

Uncertainty and doubt became real again since I still did not know the language that much or the culture here in the US. I was thankful to be here in the US but hated every moment of it as a student.  I felt alone but was determined to finish school because of what my parents did to provide a safer future.  It was so difficult to understand my nursing classes and my classmates.  I was only able to smile and say “hello,” to them since I couldn’t yet effectively converse in English. It was also during this time that my classmates asked if they could call me “Sandy,” instead of my real name, “Santhiny.” Thus, my unofficial name became Sandy.

My sister and I did housekeeping at night from 10pm-2am, and then attended 8 am classes.  It was a humbling experience.  We would be in tears thinking about our lives in our homeland.  Back home, we had a nanny who lived with us to help take care of us since both of our parents worked full-time.

Growing up, I was always a high honor student in my classes.  It was a devastating and frustrating experience to barely be passing my nursing courses at Roberts. Faculty, staff and my peers were kind to me, but no one understood the inner struggles of being away from my culture and family, except for God.  I even had suicidal thoughts when I failed my first nursing exam.  My coping mechanisms would be to cry out to God and ask for His strength when it seemed impossible to go on. 

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

I drew closer to God each semester because He was the only hope and anchor for me.  I spent my time in the library and took summer classes, completing my nursing degree in three years, instead of four.  I did not plan to stay in Rochester, but I was offered a job where I did my nursing practicum as a nursing student. I ended up staying and pursuing my advanced degrees in nursing education.

In the last twenty-five years of my professional nursing journey, I have experienced incivility, unfair treatment, and countless hardships as well as adversity. God has been faithful in granting me the grace to face these. I grew stronger. I know God did not bring me to the US without a plan.  Even when I didn’t understand why things happened the way they did, I needed to keep my faith and remind myself of God’s purpose.  He is interested in helping me mature in Him.  He is only looking to change me not others.  I am thankful for the spiritual lessons that came as a result of these experiences.

Having faith didn’t make my life any easier, but it did allow me to have hope and not give up. 

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

I like birds and the Eagle is one of my favorites because the Eagle rises above the storm.  May this message of an ‘Eagle,’ be an encouragement to you as it has for me. 

E-Equal in God’s eye (Galatians 3:28): There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

A-Acknowledge God in all we do (Proverbs 3:6): In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

G-Gain victory over adversity and rise above the storm just like the Eagle (1 John 5:4): For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 

L-Live life to the fullest each day (Matthew 6:27 & 34): Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

E-Encourage yourself and others in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5): Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

S-Self-Compassion (Mark 12:31): ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”


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