Nun on campus: A Sister reflects on her education

by Rosa Sen Nguyen, SP

Did you ever have a classmate who was a nun?

Some people ask, “Does a nun need to be well educated?” As a Sister of Providence and a student at Gonzaga University, I can answer that question.

Sister Rosa Sen Nguyen rides her bicycle to the GU campus.
Sister Rosa Sen Nguyen rides her bicycle to the GU campus.

Since I entered the religious community I have had many opportunities to explore the world around me. Being educated is important for each member in our community because it prepares us for ministry and service.

Coming from Vietnam, I never thought I would be able to go to college in America because English is my second language. It was not easy for me to learn another language, but with a heart that is eager and open to learn new things, I overcame this obstacle in a short period of time. I thank God for giving me immersion experiences and opportunities to live with many American sisters so that I was able to speak English all the time. They taught me not only how to be a sister, but also to be a good student.

Mastering English

 From the beginning, I learned the English alphabet and how to pronounce words correctly and use them in sentences, both verbal and written. Now I am able to speak and write in English. My religious community encouraged me to apply to Gonzaga University and I was accepted. Now I am in junior year majoring in accounting with a minor in theology.

It has been a miracle for me to reach this stage in life, but I believe that “with God, everything is possible.

She finds interesting reading at the university bookstore.
She finds interesting reading at the university bookstore.

I was surprised to find out that many students do not like math, but I am very interested in math and accounting. Math comes easy for me and I find it a way of focusing my mind. In that way, it does have a spiritual dimension for me. 

I also appreciate studying theology because it gives me an opportunity to learn more about scripture and different spiritualities. This also helps me grow in my prayer life as a Sister of Providence.  I realize that God makes each individual unique and gives them different gifts, which makes the world a colorful place to live.

I come in contact with many students of similar age and appreciate the camaraderie and excitement of learning together. I also have had the opportunity to meet students from other age groups and from different cultures. This helps expand my outlook on many things in life

 It took me a little time to get used to Gonzaga because it was a very different environment than my early education. Now I have adjusted to this environment and I enjoy working on projects with other students and getting to know them better.

 Vocation surprises classmates

 I remember one day after we finished rehearsing for one of our presentations, we sat down and chatted and began to learn more about each other and our backgrounds. When they found out that I was a Sister of Providence, their eyes were rolling and they said, “We have a nun as a friend!”

They immediately asked many questions about why I became a sister at such a young age and why the sisters go to school. They thought being a sister meant staying in a convent and praying all the time. But because they already knew me as a fellow student, they realized that being a sister meant more than that.

I enjoy campus life and my classmates. Some of them even came to the “convent” for dinner and met the other sisters who live with me. We share a common bond, whether we are religious sisters, or not because we are all God’s people. My life continues to unfold with many graces as I learn about religious life, about life in another culture, and as I work towards a college degree.

As a Catholic sister, I feel very blessed to attend a Catholic university because Gonzaga holds the same strong Catholic values as I do. Now I understand why my community wanted to send me there. Having an education and interacting with others will help me to live a creative, productive and a value-filled life while seeking to fulfill my own aspirations and desires. I feel the Mission of Gonzaga University will help this to become a reality.

 I am glad to be a Sister of Providence because our community values education. My religious community will continue to support me in getting the best education possible so that I can assist the poor and vulnerable in my future ministry as I live out the mission of the Sisters of Providence.