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Alumnae’s Stepson ‘Studies Abroad’ at Cedar Crest

Allentown native Lee Koch went to Germany for a study abroad experience as a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, in the late 80s. He met his wife-to-be there, got a three-month internship helping nurses at a local hospital, returned home to complete his senior year of studies, and then moved to Germany for good to be with his sweetheart.

Lee Koch

The job market, however, wasn’t all that rosy for a German teacher in Germany, and anyway, his bachelor’s degree wasn’t recognized there. Koch had two choices: study at a German university for six years to become a certified teacher, or spend three years studying nursing, and getting paid for working/studying at a teaching hospital. He chose the latter, and as the years have passed, he has decided that the best of both worlds would be to teach nursing.

Koch is currently enrolled in a master’s degree program at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, where the program requires him to have a four-week study abroad experience to learn about health care instruction in a foreign country. Koch decided to make this part of a biennial trek with his family back to his hometown.

At the suggestion of his stepmom, Francine Markovits Koch—a 1971 Cedar Crest College alumna—and with the blessing of Nursing Department Director of Graduate Programs Wendy Robb, Ph.D., he spent nearly the whole month of August on the Cedar Crest campus.

“It’s been a really good experience. What I wanted was experience seeing the system here, and how a master’s program is set up,” said Koch from his temporary office in Hamilton Boulevard Building on Aug. 24. His last day at Cedar Crest was Aug. 26. “Everybody I’ve dealt with here—whether it’s faculty or staff—has been welcoming, friendly and helpful.”

Koch kept busy during his stay in the Lehigh Valley primarily by conversing with Cedar Crest College nursing faculty and participating in their graduate courses, as well as helping Director of Undergraduate Nursing Programs Sandra Leh, Ph.D., with research on curriculum development, which is related to Koch’s master’s thesis work. He also participated in a host of simulations at a local hospital.
“Having the opportunity to host a nursing scholar from Germany has been an exciting experience for both our nursing faculty and students. Lee’s contributions to class discussions in the graduate nursing classes were valuable in demonstrating the universality of issues within the nursing profession,” said Wendy Robb.

Concerns that we struggle with here in the U.S. are concerns with which they also struggle; however, it also highlighted the uniqueness of our individual practices. For example, in the US, we are much more advanced with simulation in both practice and educational settings than in Europe.”

And thanks to Koch, nursing students at Cedar Crest got at least one more reassurance that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

“When the CCC graduate students learned that the university at which Lee is studying requires a four-week immersion practicum outside of the country, they realized their 84 hours practicum requirement was not so bad,” said Robb.

The month in the U.S. wasn’t all work for Koch. He and his family spent time at the Jersey Shore, and also visited Bushkill Falls in northeastern Pennsylvania. They returned home on Aug. 30.

Lee Koch (seated) with members of the Cedar Crest College nursing department.
Lee Koch (seated) with his stepmom, Francine Markovits Koch, and members of the Cedar Crest College nursing department.