Meet Miya Yi (’24), one of the most well-traveled individuals to graduate from CUW’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Miya stands ready to blend her wealth of cultural experience with her newly gained leadership skills for the benefit of patients.  

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories highlighting a few Concordia’s uncommon graduates. Faculty and staff submit candidates for consideration. Stories are posted in the days leading up to commencement. View more uncommon graduates here

At age 21, Miya Yi took her first trip abroad. She and some college friends planned a vacation from their native South Korea to Thailand during a school break. At the last minute, however, her friends canceled. Miya had never flown in her life, let alone solo, so she almost backed out of the trip as well.

Somehow, though, she found the gumption to go, and it was the start of a beautiful love affair with exploring new cultures.

Since then, she’s traveled to 34 countries (soon to be 35) and, this weekend, she gets to add Wisconsin to her extensive list of stops. Having completed Concordia’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program remotely from her current home in Colorado, she never had occasion to visit CUW’s campus before. But she’s planned a trip to Mequon, along with her husband and family members, to celebrate the completion of her doctoral degree as part of Concordia’s May commencement exercises on Friday and Saturday.

Why not travel?

On her very first trip abroad to Thailand, Miya was surprised to find how easy it was to make friends in a foreign country. One local family even had compassion on her and invited her to their home for lunch when she became lost in a rural area. There was a definite language barrier between the family and Miya, but they communicated through gestures. Even without words, their hospitality was evident.

“After spending two weeks in Thailand, I felt like I did not want to go back home,” Miya said. “I enjoyed it that much. Thai people are so warm and kind.”  

On her return flight to South Korea she sat next to a man from Canada. They struck up a conversation about her recent adventure, and Miya resignedly told him that she didn’t foresee much travel in her future.

“He simply said, ‘Why not?’” Miya recalled. “Those two words really struck me. Why not? I didn’t have a good answer.”

Carving out time and a budget for travel can seem like such a far-away luxury. Then again, there are always reasons not to do something. So, she immediately began to save for her next trip. Three months later, she traveled to Europe to meet up with friends she had made in Thailand.

Traveling to serve others

Since then, she’s continued to travel for pleasure – to places like the Himalayas and Angkor Wat – but she’s done her fair share of philanthropic trips too.

In 2013, she put her nursing undergraduate degree to use by volunteering in the Dominican Republic through the Korea International cooperation Agency (KOICA), a foreign affairs organization of the South Korean government. She served there about two years in total. Initially, she worked as a public health educator in a national hospital, and then, she moved to a Haitian village to teach basic hygiene to school children and serve adolescent populations.

She hopes to return one day to this line of work in Africa through a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). It’s a dream she’s had ever since she was young and read a biography about French-German physician, theologian, and musician, Albert Schweitzer. The son of a Lutheran minister, Schweitzer received a Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work in Africa.

In the meantime, she and her husband, whom she met in a language café in Seoul, will likely move to Phoenix where she can put her Spanish-speaking skills (one of three languages she speaks) to use. She researched the job prospects there and, with Latinos representing nearly 43% of Phoenix’s population, her trilingual talents make her a highly marketable candidate.

With careful consideration and forethought

There’s very little Miya does without careful planning and attention to detail. Just as she researched Phoenix for her next landing spot now that she has a DNP in hand, she originally chose to move to the U.S. to improve her chances of getting into a doctoral program. She persuaded her husband to move with her to Colorado Springs after her research revealed that, at the time, the city ranked No. 1 among the best places in the U.S. to live.

Not long after she moved to Colorado, she began to explore doctoral options. She liked the flexibility of CUW’s program, its focus on building leadership skills for the profession, and it’s Christ-centered mission.

“I did a lot of research and I contacted many schools about the curriculum,” Miya said. “Concordia responded to my emails very quickly, unlike other universities. (My admission counselor) gave me a lot of information that I needed.” 

Once enrolled, Concordia did not disappoint.

“I like the faculty,” Miya said. “They are organized, very kind, and comforting. If I have any questions, they respond quickly with very helpful information.”

Long-distance connection

Even remotely, Miya felt she built valuable connections with professors. When she was considering a job offer at one point, she called Director of Graduate Nursing Julie Parve, DNP, for advice. Parve eagerly obliged.

It’s this type of individualized attention that Miya strives to deliver to her patients. She’s passionate about improving health care access for marginalized populations. She aspires to open a virtual office that extends health care access to global populations, a perfect blending of her and her husband’s skillsets. Her husband, a Major in the United States military, holds a degree in computer science and has worked in cyber security for the past few years.    

“By leveraging technology, I aim to bridge the gap in health care disparities and ensure that individuals, regardless of their geographical location or socioeconomic status, have access to comprehensive healthcare services,” Miya said. “With my diverse background, I think I bring a unique perspective that enhances my ability to do this.”

Want in?

The School of Nursing develops nurses ready to excel in today’s challenging health care context. As a nursing student, you will learn to care for people of all ages in both acute care settings and the community. Instructors and classroom experiences blend curricular rigor with a passion for care, a balance that develops you uniquely both to serve with professional excellence and to fulfill your sense of calling as you care and serve throughout your career. Nursing undergraduate students also participate in the Concordia Core, a rigorous, liberal arts curriculum integrated with Lutheran distinctives.