Asst. Prof. Rowena Mission-Turtal
An author once said: “It's not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of person, kind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.”
And these words of author Leo Buscaglia hold a strong connection to this professor at the College of Nursing.
While others dreamed of living and working outside the country as a nurse, Asst. Prof. Rowena Mission-Turtal decided to stay where the heart is: home. She derives an incomparable happiness and fulfillment from reaching out to people in the community and making her profession relevant to them.
Rowena, as she is known to her colleagues, is a professor at the College of Nursing who specializes in public health nursing. She drew her inspiration in pursuing public health nursing as an area of specialization from former mentors, Prof. Emma Pontiñela and Prof. Ramonita Nakao. Rowena recalls her experience as an undergraduate student of nursing in Silliman in dealing with indigents in the community as the impetus behind her choice of a career.
After graduating with a degree of Bachelor of Nursing in 1984, and passing the licensure examination the year after, Rowena chose to be a volunteer nurse at the Silliman University Medical Center. But still months into her volunteer work, two opportunities to be engaged as a research assistant came knocking on her door one after the other. She was first invited by her former teacher, Professor Nakao, to join a project on breastfeeding; and after her stint in that project, she was offered by another former mentor, Professor Pontiñela to work as a community health nurse for the Development through Education and Exposure Program. But as with any project, her involvement came to an end. Dedicated to service, she went back to being a nurse reliever at the hospital for six months.
In 1987, Rowena received an invitation to join the College of Nursing as an instructor. She was offered a teaching post, and public health nursing was among those that she was assigned to focus on. The decision-making did not take much time. At that time, she had enough exposure to realities on the ground that deepened her appreciation of the role of healthcare in community empowerment.
Twenty-six years later, Rowena still finds herself with the same enthusiasm about teaching and the community service that a Sillimanian nurse commits to. She draws in inspiration from students' passion about nursing as their course, and their continuing desire to bridge classroom discussions with actual issues in the communities that they serve as student-nurses. And the words of a gratitude that she receives from former students, especially those who have established their names here and abroad, are but a cherry on top of the ice cream that keeps her reminded of a decision well-made.
“I love where I am now. This is an opportunity for me to be able to inspire students and to impart to them ways to promote health and to prevent diseases,” Rowena shares.
A true mentor, she incorporates into her classroom discussions lessons that develop within her students the value of perseverance. She helps them realize that life becomes easier when one recognizes that the journey to success and fulfillment is confronted with difficulties. She highlights to them the importance of flexibility and resilience as a coping mechanism against life’s unending challenges.
Rowena also affirms the role of Christian faith in her life. Every day, she reflects on God's purpose for her existence, and considers what she goes through as a testament to how He has been with her and her family all this time. She looks back to that period when she was invited to join the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a nurse, but smiles remembering how she judged against it with a principle sharpened over time in her experience in the academe.
“The reason why I thrived here in Silliman is that I live a simple life,” says Rowena of her service to the University of more than two decades.
Rowena obtained her Master of Arts in Nursing major in Public Health Nursing from Silliman in 2000.
She is blessed with the care, love and support of her husband, Leo, a licensed engineer, and son, Christian Leo, who is already in his third year as a Biology major in Silliman.
Let's get to know Rowena more:
Describe yourself in three words.
Simple. Patient. Caring.
What is your mantra in life?
“Be a blessing to others as God blesses us.”
What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at funny movies. I cry when I see movies about war and images of suffering children.
What’s your favorite time/day of the week and why?
Morning as I am very active during this time. I am a morning person.
What do you love doing when not working?
Read inspiring books, watch movies and TV shows.
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
Faculty lounge and vicinity of the Silliman Church – where I can gain some peace of mind.
What makes you blush?
If you were an actor/actress, who would you be?
Tell us a fact about yourself?
I am respected and looked-up by my siblings.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
“Bagol,” “Piko” and “Kayukok.”
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
This will be the time when I could have the luxury of reading all the books that I bought, watch TV shows without worrying about grades and papers to be checked.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
I can play the guitar.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
“When You Believe.”
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
Walk for forty minutes around the Silliman Church.
What’s your idea of a family?
A family is where a source of love, inspiration and comfort when you’re down. It is also a blessing from God.