Yan RoosenbergBorn in a remote village in Burma, Yan Roosenberg spent seven years as a young boy living in a refugee camp in Thailand, waiting for the day when he and his family could come to America.

Today, he’s studying to be a nurse at Sage, so that he can some day go back to Burma and make a difference. His mother died while in labor, and it was a death he says likely could have been prevented had there been adequate medical care. If there had been a hospital or medical clinic things could have turned out differently.

If Yan can achieve all he hopes to achieve, he says he’ll go back to his homeland and use his nursing skills to help the children of Burma. 

But first, he’s got much to do here. And he has much that he feels appreciative for in his own life.

“Living here on this campus is something I never imagined,” he says. (And somehow that feels like understatement.)

Yan has been able to attend college because of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, a partnership between Sage and the New York State Education Department. HEOP provides educational opportunities to students who, due to limited academic and financial resources, would otherwise not be able to attend college.

Once admitted to the HEOP program, students are provided with financial assistance, counseling, tutoring, advising and other support services throughout their college career. 

Yan has needed to take full advantage of all this assistance. He’s found college a challenge, especially since English still very much feels like a second language.

“But I’m going to do whatever I can to get the nursing degree,” he says. “The HEOP program is very helpful to me. And my professors, when I need help, they’re always there for me.”

Yan says he’s attending college to get the nursing degree so that one day he can give back to those who haven’t been given the opportunities he has.