Long Journey to Lasting Impact


Scene Magazine | Spring 2022

"I suppose we have to take a chance every now and then," said Nirmala Lekhak ‘09, PhD.

She certainly took a chance, and it has worked out well.

An array of circumstances led to Lekhak's inspiration to leave her native Nepal in 2005 to study nursing. Lekhak always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare field, but, in Nepal, the medical field pathways primarily led to a career as a doctor.

After a year of studying in Wichita, Kansas, and some time to acclimate to the fact that the "U.S. was not at all as depicted in the movies," she traveled to Iowa for a summer trip to visit a close friend's family. In the process, she discovered St. Ambrose University.

In the SAU Nursing program, both the student and her future career prospects blossomed.

"At SAU, I had such a great time," she said. "I am eternally grateful for members of the faculty who were consistently encouraging and supporting of me. Because of the love and support that I received, I have very fond memories of the school."

Lekhak is now using her global perspective to pay forward that love and support and apply her cultural beliefs of spirituality and elder care to her work in the U.S. In Nepal, her upbringing taught her to value the elderly, and religious and spiritual practices were a part of the daily routine. "I was taught that such practices affect our overall wellbeing."


Nirmala Lekhak

Nurse and Professor

Lehkak teaches pathophysiology, pharmacology, community and gerontology clinical courses within the baccalaureate program, and statistics in the graduate program at the UNLV School of Nursing.

Unlike the U.S., where many elderly move into nursing homes, older adults in Nepal continue to live with their families and are immersed in daily spirituality.

"Even those elderly who have been abandoned by family members live in shelters near temples, allowing them to participate in spiritual practices. Their situation seems to be far better than at the nursing homes here in the U.S.," said Lekhak.

"I have learned a lot about social and health inequality. Working in a U.S. nursing home, I was saddened by the residents' rapid decline and loneliness."

These cultural experiences have driven her current research on the impact of compassion, spirituality, and mediation on loneliness and the psychological wellbeing of older adults.

"These insights inspired me to research the impact of spirituality/spiritual practices on older adults' psychological and cognitive health. I do not think I would be this open in my thinking if I hadn't come to the U.S. I hope I can use this understanding to make a change."

Lehkak teaches pathophysiology, pharmacology, community and gerontology clinical courses within the baccalaureate program, and statistics in the graduate program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Nursing. She was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from St Ambrose College of Health and Human Services in 2021.

–Shelley Little


Addy Nelson ’23 was born with an entrepreneur’s spirit. With her parents owning the bowling alley in her hometown of Gregory, South Dakota—the same place she perfected her game to earn a scholarship to St. Ambrose University—she learned early to be innovative, customer-focused and business-minded.

Read More About Innovative App-lication...

Maggie (Verdun) Bohnert '15, '16 MOT

At SAU, hard work = recognition. Here is a list of full-time students who were named to the St. Ambrose University Dean's List for the Fall 2023 term. These students earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).

Read More About Fall 2023...

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