At a young age, Zeinab Mohamed had to leave her homeland of Somalia due to war. She came to America to have the best opportunity to get an education and live a successful life.

She took advantage of every chance she got.

And now, graduating this spring semester from Winona State University, she’ll be using those opportunities to pursue the career she’s passionate about.

After graduating high school in 2016, Mohamed started to explore her interest in the healthcare field, which led her to earning her phlebotomy certification from Mayo School of Health Sciences and landing a job at Mayo Clinic.

Mohamed soon learned that phlebotomists don’t stay in one place. While assisting with patients in a variety of different units, she couldn’t connect with patients as closely as she would like.

“I wanted to have human interaction and I want to make that direct impact,” Mohamed said. “Nurses were 95 percent with the patients, and the families…they were the ones going with the patients throughout the journey.”

Mohamed received her associate’s degree from Rochester Community & Technical College and then applied to the Winona State University-Rochester campus to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

As her nursing journey was about to begin, Mohamed was about to start another one—motherhood. While preparing for the arrival of her child, Mohamed was also preparing to thrive in nursing school.

It was challenging not having an example of a working woman close to her who was a mother and a student, she said. Mohamed learned that time management, perseverance, grit, and a strong support system is what she needed to keep going.

Her advisors at WSU were a big part of that support system for her. They understood that Mohamed was a student but a mother first and foremost to her daughter.

“I’m so happy I chose WSU because none of the (advisors) made me feel like I should or shouldn’t have started a family while pursuing an education.”

Throughout her pregnancy and during postpartum, Mohamed’s professors checked in with her to ensure she was getting her rest, enjoying the quality time with her baby, and reassuring her that she wouldn’t fall behind due to coursework.

As a 25 year-old mom, Mohamed maintained a 4.0 GPA.

However, balancing motherhood and being a student was stressful at times. One night after a long period of caring for her child who was sick, she wasn’t able to fully prepare for an exam the next day in her hardest class. She got a C on the test.

“I was so hard on myself,” she said.

She made an appointment with her professor to talk through her mistakes, so she’d understand the concepts before the final exam. What she didn’t expect was for the professor—a mom herself—to empathize with Mohamed and assure her that it wouldn’t derail her class.

“All the teachers were nice to me,” Mohamed said.

After that experience, it motivated her to keep pushing through and keep pushing hard toward her goals.

“I wanted to thrive in nursing,” she said. “I had a reason, especially now that I have a daughter who will look up to me.”

Mohamed is proud of her Warrior journey and even more proud to be graduating with a degree in Nursing. In the future, Mohamed would like to specialize in psychiatry and one day open her own practice.

She’s currently seeking job opportunities and has an interview lined up. She knows her future is going to be bright. No matter what, she’ll work toward her next goal and thrive in whatever challenges the world gives her.

“Don’t let your doubts dictate your life,” she said. “Believe in yourself. If you have a strong enough why, you will always figure out what to do.”