Boguslaw Sahkhan has seen and done more things in his 28 years on earth than most people see and do in their lifetimes. He's a military man, a champion powerlifter, a mean pizza maker and Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) graduate. Impacting people in positive ways is a mission the affable Sakhan gladly accepts.
“You have a couple of choices in life where you get to be good at something," Sakhan expressed. “I remember at a young age; I was always trying to find my place."
The RCSJ–Cumberland campus grad first found his place in the gym where he became widely recognized for his physical prowess and awesome strength. “I'm a state record holder in powerlifting," Sakhan announced, with a modest grin. “I'm also actually a state champion for the deadlift record."
In addition to being a world class weightlifter, Sakhan served two tours of duty in Iraq, in 2017 and 2018 as a “Military Occupational Specialty Eleven Bravo, Infantryman," defending the country through real-life combat.
“The basic responsibility of an infantryman is shooting, communicating, and actively setting up parameters," Sakhan explained. “You're doing defensive and offensive capabilities."
While on the battlefield, Sakhan participated in and observed harrowing occurrences that he cannot speak about. However, he also saw some things that, eventually, would lead him on a different path.
“What really interested me was the medics when we were deployed in Iraq," the Vineland resident acknowledged. “The soldiers who were medics were really efficient at their jobs. They were very effective people and worked as a cohesive team in order to get the job done. No matter how bad the situation, no matter how rough it was, these medics knew what they were doing all the time and never panicked."
Sakhan – who used to bench press air conditioners during his downtime in Iraq – found inspiration in the calm demeanors of the medics and decided he wanted “to be a part of that." Instead of becoming a field/combat medic, he chose to participate in the LPN program at RCSJ in 2020.
“One of the best things I can say about the LPN program is that it really changed my life," said Sakhan.
The LPN powerlifter spoke effusively about the influence RCSJ professors Hui-Ching Wang, Noelle Gaetano and Kelly Master had on him during his time at the school. “They broke everything down, like, Barney-style. They made it super easy for me to understand," Sakhan noted. “I owe them everything."
According to Sahkhan, Master dropped some jewels of wisdom that still resonate with him.
“I'll never forget what Mrs. Master told us," Sakhan revealed. “She told us that no matter what happens, you always stick to the basics. Never forget where you come from. That has stuck with me for a long, long time."
Master has great things to say about Sakhan, as well. “The nursing program is very vigorous, but Bo was up for the challenge. He was motivated, hard-working and had a positive attitude. In the clinical setting, he applied effective communication skills with his patients. He received compliments from the patients and staff in the hospital setting for his quality nursing."
Being a part of a patient's life and helping them find a path to healthy living is Sakhan's favorite aspect of the practical nursing field. “People don't go to the hospital because they want to buy some cookies," he said. “Being a practical nurse, you're with them through their journey. You get to hold their hands. Being in their lives and helping them transition to a healthy lifestyle is definitely rewarding.
“Sometimes you get patients who are very upset with you no matter what. But sometimes, you get a patient who's so grateful and you just become humbled. It's the coolest, best job I've ever had."
Interestingly, while taking classes at RCSJ, Sakhan, who was an active member of the army for seven years and currently serves in the New Jersey National Guard, was called upon to protect the U.S. Capitol from Jan. 11 to Feb. 20, in response to the Jan. 6 insurrectionist attack. “I worked 20-hour days, slept for about maybe an hour, an hour and a half, then I was right back on the line making sure I'm watching everybody."
He noted that senators and congresspeople from both sides of the aisle genuinely thanked him and his fellow guardsmen for keeping them safe.
The versatile practical nurse has served in Iraq and has been crowned a state champion in weightlifting events yet was just as proud to share another gift that may surprise many. “I used to make pizzas in Martino's Trattoria & Pizzeria in Vineland," he revealed. “I used to make the best pizzas, man, legit! To this day, I still know the techniques!"
Throughout his lifetime, Sakhan has found many ways to find his fit and has done his best to leave a positive impact on people's lives – locally, regionally and globally. He thanks RCSJ for helping him reach levels that he did not even imagine were attainable.
“I never thought that this program, this entire school would make such an impression on my life. It took me in a better direction, and it changed me as a human being," Sakhan declared. “It made me more compassionate and empathetic towards people and their problems. I recommend this program to anybody. It's a life changer. It really is."
For more information about RCSJ's Nursing Program, please visit RCSJ.edu/nursing/lpn-rn.