Zeinab Mohamed has a book with a cover emblazoned with the words “Dream Big.” Inside it is a list of “non-negotiable” goals she intends to reach.
“If I die, would I regret not doing this?” Mohamed questioned. “If the answer is yes, I am putting it in that book.”
Mohamed said turning 21 this year meant she found herself reflecting on what she’s done.
“When I’m 40, I don’t want to look back on my life and be like, ‘I wish I had done this when I was in my 20s, or 30s.’”
Some would say she is right on track. The driven second-year student who originally wanted to be a dental hygienist works as a phlebotomist, or lab tech. She was recently accepted into Winona State University, but plans on going beyond a four-year degree.
Mohamed plans on double majoring in both nursing and psychology before eventually getting her masters in both, specifically to become a family nurse practitioner.
Her time at Rochester Community and Technical College has been preparing her for both fields of study.
“School wise it’s really going great,” she said. “You don’t understand something, you can go to the teacher and they’re very open. I’m really glad I started here. I’m from Ethiopia; when I came here in junior year (of high school) it was quite confusing. But RCTC kind of helped me understand the American education system and also helped me develop the skills that I can use in university. If I had started university right away, I think it would have been, yeah, disaster.”
Along the way she has joined Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society. It has exposed her to more on campus like the administration, teachers, and even students.
When she first received an email to join the group, Mohamed ignored it, unsure of what it really was.
“To be honest… my mentality was, go to college, study hard, don’t get involved with anybody. Just do your school.”
Since joining and being a bigger part of campus as the vice president of service for the society, she’s seen how important a role being social plays on campus.
“College is more than just getting your education and getting out as soon as you can,” Mohamed explained. “It’s more of being connected to the people you’re attending class with, being connected to your teachers, your advisors, and that will not only help you here, but help you in university, help you in general later.”
Mohamed said she learned you have to do something you don’t like to get what you want. For her it’s school.
But if you go to college, “you will gain education, broader understanding of the world,” she said.
Looking back, she said she’s come a long way. And even though it wasn’t always easy for her to, say, communicate early on at her job as a phlebotomist, everyone has to start somewhere.
And it never hurts to dream big.