From Indonesia to nursing in Queens

Sensing tough economic times, Helen Surianti left her original field of business in order to study in the clinical nursing program at Queensborough Community College.

Born in Indonesia, Surianti first came to the United States when she was 12 years old. After three years, her family moved back to Indonesia for a year before going to Taiwan.

About two years ago, Surianti moved back to the United States with her father. He received a green card and gave all of his children, who were older than 21 at the time, the option to decide if they wanted to move back to America.

Surianti said that at that time she was graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and she decided that she would move back in order to pursue her graduate studies.

However, Surianti, now a resident of Flushing, ended up changing her field of study.

“I gambled,” she said. “I got a feeling that the economy [was] going to be bad.”

Surianti said that she saw that many MBAs were not able to find jobs, but also had heard that there was a nursing shortage. Although her mother and younger sister are dentists and her older sister wants to become a doctor, she had not previously considered going into the medical field since it was her sister’s dream.

“When I decided to transfer my family supported [me],” Surianti said of her decision to join the nursing program.

This semester is Surianti’s first in the clinical nursing program, which lasts for two and a half years. She described the program as being interesting and challenging.

“I really love Queensborough,” Surianti said, adding that she came to the school because she heard it had a really good nursing program.

In order to gain more first hand knowledge of the health care field following her decision to leave business, Surianti decided that she wanted to do some sort of volunteer work. During September of last year she began volunteering with the Jamaica Estates Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Surianti is at the beginning level as a dispatcher. She is also taking basic EMT classes and expects to become licensed in June.

Through her volunteer work with the ambulance corps, Surianti said that she has been able to see some of her weaknesses and areas that she needs to work on. She said the first one she recognized is the need to enhance her communication skills.

“I learned something new [about myself],” Surianti said. “That’s good.”

Also, Surianti volunteers with a children’s church group as a classroom helper during Sunday school. She also started doing this last September and said that she learns more than the children do.

At Queensborough, Surianti is a senator representing the international students, who recommended her for the position. She explained that the senators work with the school’s student government and vote on different motions.

Since coming to the United States, Surianti said that the biggest challenge she has faced has been communication and language. She said that she has worked on improving these areas through her interactions with other people, adding that people with patience have taken the time to understand her.

Surianti said that she is considering eventually becoming an emergency room nurse practitioner.

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