At 10 years old, Arno van Vuuren had to learn an entirely new language and culture when his family moved to South Florida from South Africa in 1999.
He didn’t know English at the time, he said, and the pace of life in Boca Raton was quite different from where he grew up, just outside of Pretoria. "For me it was much faster here," he said.
His older brother, Richter, knew some English when he arrived in the U.S. but also remembers the difficult transition to a new way of life. "There were more opportunities to do things (in the U.S.), but also the expectations were different," Richter van Vuuren said.
|Brothers Richter (left) and Arno van Vuuren will graduate on May 7 from Palm Beach Atlantic University.|
Succeeding despite those early challenges, the brothers are now preparing to receive their degrees from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Both have distinguished themselves in and out of the classroom.
A member of the School of Ministry’s Traveling Team, he serves as a worship leader for church youth groups and Christian schools.
On campus, he worked as a resident assistant and as an assistant resident director of Rinker Hall. He also serves in his church as worship team director and as a pastor assistant.
Instead of the usual four years, he has been able to complete his degree in three. He took several Advanced Placement courses in high school, he said, and he has taken full course loads each semester at PBA. "I just kind of pushed myself," he said.
He recently became engaged to Janis Adames, a 2009 PBA graduate. He is interviewing for management positions that he hopes will teach him about the business side of church operations, such as treating church employees well and keeping them motivated. "Those are things I became passionate about," he said.
Richter van Vuuren, 25, will receive his degree in nursing from PBA. He recently was named a nominee for the Nursing Student of the Year award from the Palm Healthcare Foundation. The award will be presented on Friday at The Breakers.
He is presently finishing his senior preceptorship in the emergency room at Delray Medical Center, and he hopes to pursue emergency room nursing as a career.
Before attending PBA, Richter van Vuuren studied accounting and computer engineering at Florida Atlantic University. After visiting and talking with some friends who attended PBA, he eventually decided to transfer here.
While he initially was drawn to the problem solving and critical analysis aspects of the nursing field, he enjoys the personal interaction as well. "Nurses spend the most time with patients," he said. "We are like the case manager. You can really make a difference with that."
He said his graduating class in the nursing school has become very close. "We’ve become like a family in a sense, encouraging each other to grow in Christ," he said.