Zeinab Hassan knows exactly how many miles The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is from the Somalian village where her parents were born – 7, 930. That’s how many miles it took before she and her family felt safe. At the age of two, she and her family fled the wars and strife of Somalia as refugees, migrating from East Africa to America.

“My parents don’t talk much about the war. They don’t talk much about the struggles either. It’s inside of them, I am sure, but they left it in the rear view mirror. They focused more on the future.”

For the past 18 years she and her family have created a bright future in Greensboro. “We love Greensboro. I’ve grown up here. I went to elementary, middle, and high school here,” she said. “I decided to become a nurse here. When I finish nursing school, I will stay here and maybe work at Moses Cone Hospital.”

Hassan is an International Baccalaureate (IB) graduate from Grimsley High School. The IB program offers high performing high school students a global education focusing on academics, personal growth and civic engagement.

When Hassan entered UNCG two years ago as a pre-nursing student, she did so with a 5.0 GPA and with 30 college credit hours that transferred from Grimsley.

As one of UNCG’s distinguished and high performing students she has been the recipient of the Dr. Sullivan Scholarship, the Freshman Nursing Scholarship, the Daphine Doster Scholarship in Nursing, and the Barnes and Noble Scholarship.

In spring of 2014 she was accepted into UNCG’s School of Nursing as an Upper Division nursing student. Hassan had options. She could have attended UNC Chapel Hill or Wake Forest, but she chose to become a Spartan.

There are two reasons she chose UNCG. One was because of the university’s prestigious nursing program. “I have no doubt that UNCG has one of the best nursing programs in the country, and I knew it would prepare me for my future as a successful leader and nurse,” Hassan says.

The other was the diversity of the university. About that Hassan says, “UNCG also has a very diverse culture and the idea of interacting and learning from people from different cultures and walks of life is really important to me.”

Hassan is on target with her assertion about the nursing program at UNCG as it was recently ranked as one of the top nursing schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

She has spent part of this summer attending summer school to fulfill the entrance courses required by the UNCG nursing program.

This fall, like her parents when they migrated to America, Hassan is acutely focused on doing what she loves as a nurse and on her goals for the future.

“I believe that every generation has an obligation to progress the efforts of the previous,” she says. “My parents have worked really hard to get me here. I owe it to them…I owe it to myself…I owe it to the generation after me.”


Story by Nancy Maingi, contributor
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Relations