Zainab Gaal-Weber MSN-FNP ’17

Zainab Gaal-Weber

Hometown: Covington, WA
Major: Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner Track

When I was 13 years old, I was seriously hurt in Somalia. A nurse from Doctors Without Borders helped me. Because she was able to recognize the seriousness of my condition, she saved my life. Ever since then, I have wanted to become a nurse.

Early on, I knew the path to becoming a nurse was not going to be easy because I didn’t speak English. At community college, I began as an English as a Second Language student. After I slowly made my way through my nursing prerequisites and completed my associate’s degree, I wanted to gain a few years of clinical experience. Once I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in nursing, I became a critical care nurse.

While I was working in the cardiothoracic unit at the University of Washington Medical Center, I met a few colleagues who were attending graduate school at SPU. I knew I wanted to go back to school, but I wasn’t ready yet. When I finally decided to look into it, I was invited to take a few non-matriculated courses. After those courses, it was easy to see that SPU was the right choice for graduate school.

From the moment I stepped into the classroom, I felt like a member of the SPU family. Dr. Rolfe Witham is my mentor, and she has supported me throughout my graduate studies. Dr. Wild has even offered to speak with me on the weekends about school, because she knows I have a 10-month-old son. That kind of one-on-one dedication is what makes SPU unique.

What I like most about the Family Nurse Practitioner program at SPU is that it is offered in the evenings along with the options of part-time or full-time attendance, giving students the ability to balance school, work, and home life. The professors in the program also have a vested interest in students succeeding in the program, to successfully achieve their individual goals.

After graduation, my short-term goal is to gain experience as a family nurse practitioner. In the long term, I aim to open a nonprofit family clinic in Somalia in order to help families who cannot afford to pay for health care. I would love to be able to invite future nursing and medical students to the clinic so they could change the lives of patients, just like when I was a young girl.

JinJin Yuan

JinJin Yuan’s Story

“After graduation from high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. To satisfy my parents, I enrolled in a community college in pursuit of a Business major. The classes seemed monotonous to me, and my grades suffered as a result. It was difficult to imagine myself sitting at a desk working a 9-to-5 job wearing a suit and tie.”