Friday, November 16, 2018

SUU to Cardiologist and Assistant Professor

Ryan C. Van Woerkom credits SUU’s stellar pre-med program for launching his medical career as a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine and director of interventional echocardiography at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas Texas.

“It solidified my first official summer research internship at the University of Utah,” he says of his Southern Utah University education. “I wasn’t particularly skilled or qualified for the position, but SUU provided the opportunity. This launched me for my next summer research internship at the Mayo Clinic, and the rest is history.”

Following his 2006 SUU graduation with majors in Biology/Zoology and Chemistry, Ryan graduated from the U of U School of Medicine in 2010 and finished his internal medicine residency at the Oregon Health & Science University in 2013. He completed two fellowships at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, one in cardiovascular disease and the other in advanced echocardiography, and then completed a third fellowship in cardiac advanced imaging at the Oregon Health & Science University.

While several SUU professors influenced Ryan’s academic experience, one in particular (who recently passed away) had a special impact.

“Suzanne Larson taught an instrumental and widely applicable class on the topic of critical thinking that still benefits me every day,” he says. “She was such a great mentor!”

Ryan liked everything about SUU, including meeting life-long friends and learning from roommates, flatmates, classmates, friends, and neighbors.

“I have such deep respect for not only these folks, but my professors and administrators,” he says. “I loved that there was such a push for involvement, and a niche was created for nearly everyone to become involved in one facet or another.”

Ryan’s niche included serving as a Presidential Ambassador, and participating with SUUSA, Institute, Rural Health Scholars, Thai Food Club, Honors Program, and singing in OPUS, which afforded him the unique (and terrifying) opportunity of singing at Carnegie Hall.

SUU also gave Ryan financial, social, spiritual, and academic independence.

“I learned the necessity in community for learning independence,” he explains. “I learned that while my independent goals and means for achieving the goals may be different from those around me, SUU was small enough that through my close-knit interactions with others, we could always lift each other towards those goals.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

SUU to Elementary School Teacher

Teaching has been described as one of the noblest professions in society because of the impact an educator has in shaping the character, caliber, and future of a child. That philosophy describes well the impact Kimmy Soper (’01 & ’08) has on her third grade students at Enoch Elementary in Enoch, Utah,

“I just do my thing and hope that I make someone’s world a little better each day,” she humbly says of her role as a teacher.

A graduate of Cedar High School, Kimmy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with an early childhood education license and a concentration in physical education from SUU in 2001. She went on to earn a Master of Education degree in 2008, and has mentored countless numbers of pre-service teachers and students at SUU.

“My education at SUU prepared me to be an effective teacher prepared to enter the challenging work of education,” she says. “My favorite thing about SUU was the faculty and staff that took a personal interest in me and my education.”

A self-proclaimed “non-conformist,” Kimmy’s favorite college memories include developing life-long friendships, being the president and founding member of the Corndog Club, and organizing numerous parties for her college friends.

“I was the official party planner and provided venues for many people to meet their future spouses,” she says.

What was the most random thing that happened to her at SUU?

“I passed out in the copy center and was kindly humiliated as I was rolled through the library on a gurney in front of all my study buddies,” she responds.

While friendships, corndogs, and parties were all an important part of her SUU experience, what took place inside the classroom was exceptional, including what she learned about herself.

“I learned that I can do hard things, make friends easily, and I learned the importance of making a difference in the world,” she says.