Yeak graduated from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, School of Nursing in May of 2021. He currently works as a Medical Oncology nurse at M Health Fairview. He and his wife live in Fridley where they are raising their 5 children. His over-arching goal as a nurse is to provide Christ-centered care to patients – regardless of their race, ethnicity, social, political or moral worldview and to reflect the image of God to them. His nursing badge declares, “Imago Dei” (made in the image of God), and has opened the doorway to share Christ with many. The way he serves for the glory of God alone testifies to his family, patients, and everyone around him that God is worthy of his whole life!
Yeak grew up in Liberia, in a culture impacted by high death rates due to cholera. Because of the tragic health conditions surrounding him, he made the decision early on to go into health care with the hope of, one day, returning to Liberia and changing the health care in his home country. He began to research nursing schools – desiring not only a solid academic foundation, but also a learning environment that taught genuine Christianity in the classroom and demonstrated it in the lives of the students and faculty. God led him to the School of Nursing at the University of Northwestern – St Paul and he enrolled in 2019 to earn his BSN degree. He knew the road ahead of him would not be easy, but he chose to trust the LORD and move forward. As the months progressed, Yeak found himself being tested and refined in that trust. The responsibility of providing for his family, working, and completing his studies pushed him to his limits. He battled depression and academic challenges. He took a semester off to work and earn enough to pay his tuition – trusting that God would make a way. Through all of these challenges, Yeak experienced the overwhelming love, provision, and grace of God as the faculty and staff supported and encouraged him throughout the remaining semesters.
In 2021, he completed his BSN studies and graduated from the University of Northwestern - St Paul, School of Nursing. His dream of returning to Liberia is still unfolding. A Christian university near his Liberian home has begun to develop a School of Nursing program, and Yeak serves on their development board. He is currently pouring his heart into these efforts while also joyfully serving in his role as medical oncology nurse.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Cor. 10:31
If you ask Yeak for advice, he would genuinely offer these words of wisdom: “Nursing school is not easy, but if you trust in God with all your heart, He will get you through it. Work as hard as you can. Never give up!
Jolene grew up in a small town in southwestern Minnesota. God has been faithfully writing His story in her life even amidst faith struggles, feeling lost in her identity, the abuse of an unhealthy marriage, divorce, and academic challenges.
She began her medical career as a lab tech, and at the age of 27, found herself recovering from an abusive marriage. It was at this time that she met and married her new husband and felt God’s grace wash over her as He assured her that she was seen, loved, known, and He was never leaving her alone.
God blessed their marriage with two children and Jolene was able to stay at home with them while they were small and run a daycare out of her home. After 6 years, once their children entered school, she and her husband prayerfully decided that God was calling her into nursing.
She applied to several nursing schools, but God closed each of those doors, until He opened wide the door at UNW. Jolene was eagerly accepted into the School of Nursing and heard God whisper “Welcome Home” to her heart as she stepped into what He had planned for her. Throughout the months that followed, Jolene experienced the love of Christ pouring over her through the support of the nursing professors, their love for her, and their willingness to meet her where she was at and coach her through.
Jolene graduated in spring of 2021 and accepted a position at the Mayo Hospital in Waseca. She currently works as a charge nurse and primary Emergency Department nurse. Because of the small-sized hospital, she has crossed-trained to serve both as a medical-surgical nurse as well as in the emergency department. Her passion for nursing and her desire to be a resource to those around her has opened up opportunities for her to serve as a preceptor, clinical instructor, and in-house educator. She started a program within her hospital to teach new nurses some of the critical skills that they are missing due to COVID. Her dream for the future is to go back to school one day and earn her master’s degree so that she will be able to pass her passion for nursing on through classroom instruction.
If you were to sit down across the table from Jolene and listen to her story, it would resound with thankfulness for the way God has revealed Himself to her and never left her side. She would tell you,
“’If Jesus is in your boat, then smile at the storm. Life can throw you so many difficult things, but if Jesus is with you, you can smile at what the world and the enemy is throwing at you. He will calm the storm for you. Never lose sight of who you are in Jesus Christ; If He is with you and within you, then everything will be alright!”
Her favorite verse is Mark 4:39, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
Lorenza was born and raised in Texas and moved to Minnesota several years ago. Although from the southwest, she has grown to love the Midwest’s changing of seasons.
From a very early age, she knew that God had designed her for nursing. As a little girl, she loved to play with medical instruments and knew that a career in nursing was what God was calling her to. The first milestone in this path led her to obtain her LPN license. After several years of practice as an LPN, she began to research what was required to obtain her DNP and which nursing schools would best prepare her for that goal. After a thorough investigation and prayerful consideration, God led her to the University of Northwestern. She found that the BSN program offered the most comprehensive curriculum preparation and taught the academics from a Biblical foundation.
While the program proved intense, Lorenza found that it prepared her for the “real world”. The honest, yet supportive feedback from the professors was a huge help during her time at the SON. She knew that the commitment to study demanded a focus that challenged her to trust the Lord deeply. She would often remind herself that the temporary struggle would produce a beautiful reward if she did not give up; the challenges were preparing her to be a successful, competent nurse to impact the world – one patient at a time.
Upon graduating with her BSN degree from UNWSP School of Nursing in 2017, Lorenza obtained a job in the Allina Health system in the Critical Care Unit. After several years, she went back to school for her DNP license. Again, the next season was difficult. Facing internal conflicts as well as the pandemic’s unique challenges caused Lorenza to walk deeper into the waters of God’s faithfulness. She continually reminded herself of His calling upon her life, and chose to believe that He would see her through to the end. Her favorite verse in Philippians 1:6 speaks to this truth, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Lorenza will complete her fellowship at Mayo in September of 2023 and hopes to remain with Mayo for the foreseeable future.
If you were to ask Lorenza for a word of advice or encouragement along the BSN journey, she would tell you a few things:
“Remember your calling. This will help to keep you focused when you feel like giving up. Organize your time. There is enough time to do what is necessary.”
“Ask for help when you are struggling. While this season may be difficult, keep going. You were meant to be here! Don’t give up – you are almost there!”
“Enjoy the journey; it is part of the process!”
“Take care of yourself.”
Katie graduated with her BSN degree in 2017 from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, School of Nursing. She currently works as a Medical-Surgical Oncology Nurse at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville. In this role, she cares for many patients who are terminally ill and nearing the end of life. Her faith in God informs her practice as she meets people where they are at with grace, dignity, and sensitivity.
Katie was born with a desire to help heal people – both medically and spiritually. This was evident from an early age when she would line up her dolls and preach to them while applying Band-Aids to their make-believe wounds.
She entered the UNW School of Nursing during Fall of 2015 as a transfer student from another nursing program. She desired to learn in an environment where Christianity infused the academics as well as the student life. She found the truths of God’s Word taught and the dignity of human life upheld. This Biblical foundation would inform her decisions and guide her responses in the future as she entered her nursing practice.
Her time at UNW was both challenging and exciting. Near the end of her program completion, Katie’s family experienced a crisis that required her attention. Unable to devote the necessary time to her studies, Katie felt the sting of failing a class and had to move cohorts – pushing her graduation date back a semester. Not being one to shy from difficult things, Katie pressed forward in grit, faith and humility, learning to trust God more deeply through this difficult season.
One of the most valuable experiences for Katie was her Transcultural Trip to Ireland. While there, she had the opportunity to view health care from a completely different perspective!
After graduating from the SON BSN program, Katie went on to pursue her Master’s Degree in Nursing in 2021 through Liberty University. She fondly recounts that two of her UNW SON professors also served as her preceptors during her Master’s degree studies.
If you ask Katie what words of advice she would pass along to fellow nurses, she would tell you a couple of things:
“When you are exhausted, take a nap, take a shower, pray, go outside, drink some water, eat a snack; take care of yourself.”
“And remember, it is not your job to change the patient, but rather to educate them and to carry out their wishes”.
In the future, once her kiddos are a bit older, Katie would like to return to school and earn her doctorate degree with the hope of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9
Luke grew up in a family where his grandma worked as a labor and delivery nurse. While she didn't share many stories of her experiences, the way she served left an impact on Luke.
God instilled in Luke both a love for science and a love for people, which organically intersected in nursing. As he pursued his BSN degree, he saw God confirm that call to care for others during his time in clinicals. It was here that the relational side of nursing drew him in and affirmed his passion.
Luke found that God had designed him to handle the stress of medical emergencies well. For many of us, the trauma would cause us to shut down, but for Luke, it energized him to take action. He desired to use nursing as a missional platform, and still today - remains open to wherever God may lead him.
During his experience at the SON, he had the opportunity to visit Ukraine on a Transcultural Trip. While there, he grew in his understanding of people and cultures and had the chance to share the Gospel in Ukrainian homes through the aid of an interpreter.
As he progressed through the nursing program, he faced the pressing challenges of academics, full schedules, peer relationships, and serving as an elected student representative. However, these moments taught him to lean into the lessons God had prepared for him and taste the blessing of perseverance.
Since his graduation in 2020, Luke has had the opportunity to share his faith with fellow nurses as well as with patients - at times through words, but always by communicating value, respect, and care for others. Additionally, he has had the privilege of serving as a preceptor for other nursing students who are nearing the end of their nursing studies.
If you were to ask Luke for any words of advice, he would offer two things:
- Keep your "why" continually before you. When the going gets tough, your "why" will keep you in the game.
- It's ok to take a break! Allow yourself permission to step back and do something you enjoy.
Luke and his fiancé, Cassie, will be married this summer and are looking forward to what God has in store!
Luke graduated from the University of Northwestern - St Paul, School of Nursing in the Fall of 2020. He currently works as an ICU nurse at United Hospital. In this role, he is able to meet patients and families where they are at during their hour of intense need. His desire is to share the love of God to both the patient and their family by communicating that they are seen, valued, and loved.