Sameera Sigdel always knew she wanted to work in health care. At first she thought that meant being a nurse. But now she is following her calling—one she discovered during her time at Union—working in hospital administration in her native Nepal.
After moving to the U.S. for high school, Sigdel enrolled at Union College in 2012 as a pre-nursing major. And while she loved the health-care environment, she quickly realized nursing was not her calling. “I think everything comes back to the health of people,” she said. “Working at a hospital would allow me to make a difference, as long as I wasn’t a nurse.”
After working for Dr. Linda Becker, who at the time served as Union’s vice president for Student Services, Sigdel discovered she loved management and soon honed her skills, earning a degree in business and a minor in leadership while serving as president of Union’s International Club. At the time, she dreamed of returning to her home country, a place she felt needed good health care administrators.
“Nepal has good doctors and nurses, but not the good administrators they need to take care of them,” she explained in a 2014 interview. “I want to go back home and make a difference—I want to make it better.”
Now her dream has come true. In August 2017, Sigdel accepted a position as a development and communication officer at Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal.
After graduating from Union in May 2016, Sigdel completed an administrative internship at Centura Health System in Denver, Colo., and then went to work for the Rocky Mountain Adventist Healthcare Foundation. Sigdel discovered the opportunity to return home through Global Health Initiatives, Centura’s partnership with several hospitals in developing nations around the world, including Scheer.
As with most positions in nonprofit organizations, Sigdel found herself responsible for more than her title would indicate. Her primary role centers around developing marketing strategy, building strong internal and external communication, creating financial models and sharing the stories of visiting medical volunteers.
Sigdel has drawn heavily on her Union experience in her new job. “My experience in Union’s leadership program helped me make decisions and execute them,” she said. “My marketing class directly prepared me in my role as a communications officer. I recently produced my first annual report for Scheer Memorial. I know how to build an annual report because we made one in a business class at Union. In fact, I do miss my business classes and wish I would have paid more attention—it definitely makes a difference.”
More important than particular skills, Sigdel values the life lessons she learned at Union. “I always thought of a career as a job,” she said. “During my time at Union, I realized a career is more about doing what you are passionate about. My job gives me satisfaction that because I work hard so others might have better health. Although I am not directly related to clinical care in the hospital, my work affects patients because I write their stories and try to raise funds for the ones who cannot afford health care. I wanted to return to Nepal and work as a health care administrator, and I am living that dream today. I can now help people here, and Union enabled me.
By Maren Miller and Ryan Teller