Linda Yoo chose to be a nurse because she knows what it feels like to be sitting in a hospital. Yoo has a chronic autoimmune illness called Ulcerative Colitis. She was diagnosed when she was in high school.
“I know how it feels to not be able to navigate the health care system and feel all alone,” said Yoo. “I had a nurse who advocated for me when no one else was listening to me. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and continue the great work of nurses!”
When she came to The University of Texas at Austin, Yoo’s parents worried about her being on her own at such a large school, but she has thrived. In addition to graduating with honors from the School of Nursing this spring, Yoo has held board seats in several student societies and she co-founded the Health Advocacy Student Coalition.
Yoo is passionate about changing the world through improving and reforming health policies. Last year she traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn more about federal policymaking and ways to advocate for patients and transform health care.
We spoke with Yoo about the impact of college on her life and her plans after graduation.
Q. Why did you decide to come to UT?
Linda Yoo: I decided to come to UT because it had a vast amount of opportunities for me. I wanted to be a nurse who was really good not only at the bedside but also at research to change health policy. UT offered that opportunity as an undergraduate.
Q. What excited you most about college?
Yoo: The fact that I could be involved in so many different programs and clubs excited me. I also loved being able to combine my passions and find others to work with who loved to explore and innovate.
Q. What were some challenges that helped you become who you are now? What did you learn from them?
Yoo: Originally I didn’t think I would be able to come to college and accomplish all these things. As a student with a chronic illness, I had a huge learning curve my freshman year on how to take care of myself. But those moments of difficulty only made me stronger and more dedicated to being a nurse.
Q. What resources and support did you find on campus that helped you most?
Yoo: The greatest resources I had on campus were the professors and older students who became my mentors and role models. They helped me dream bigger and never give up. Their encouragement and guidance were truly irreplaceable.
Q. What is your favorite college memory?
Yoo: My favorite college memory is of attending the AACN policy summit in Washington, D.C. The summit showed me the importance of having the gumption to stand up for those who are disenfranchised in society.
I was able to understand the great power of nurses not only at the bedside, but also in boardrooms and in politics.
Q. What are your plans after graduation?
Yoo: After I graduate, I will be working at Cook Children's Medical Center as a pediatric critical care nurse. I am excited to continue serving families and children. I hope to make my mark at the bedside with every patient by being a nurse who is compassionate and empathetic.
Q. What else would you like people to know about your story?
Yoo: There will be people who tell you that you can't achieve your goals and doubt you. There will also be people who will be unconditional in their support of your dreams. Find a way to tune into yourself. Remind yourself that you can accomplish all things that you believe you can do.
You are stronger than you think. You are destined to achieve far more than you can imagine in this moment.