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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

Proving Anything is Possible
“No one in my family had ever gone to college – my parents didn’t even know how to read or write – but the spark to learn was still there and I decided to begin the nursing program at Saint Paul College.” -Dr. Zahra Roble

Proving Anything is Possible

Through hard work and dedication, Saint Paul College graduate Dr. Zahra Roble earns her nurse practitioner doctorate.

As a young child growing up in Somalia, Dr. Zahra Roble always had a drive to learn. “When I was just three years old, I would take my book and walk to school with my brothers and sisters – the teacher would give me a piece of candy and tell me to come back when I was a little older,” says Roble. “When I was in fourth grade I skipped to eighth grade because I always listened closely to the teacher.”

The early 1990s were a time of deep civil unrest and war in Somalia, and so at age 16, Roble moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she began attending high school and married one year later. “I finished high school in 1999, and by that time I had three young children,” says Roble. “No one in my family had ever gone to college – my parents didn’t even know how to read or write – but the spark to learn was still there and I decided to begin the nursing program at Saint Paul College.”

Working for Success

At first, college was a challenge for Roble. “I didn’t know anything about science or the body systems and I was raising four children as a single parent, but I did have the determination to succeed. I would wake up very early and study hard to pass the tests, and I often ended up being the best student in the class.”

Roble’s hard work paid off and she earned her Saint Paul College Practical Nursing diploma in 2003, however her desire to learn and grow drove her to pursue further schooling. While juggling work and motherhood, Roble attended St. Catherine University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2008, her nursing practitioner master’s degree in 2015, and her doctor of nursing practice degree in 2018.

“I have nothing but praise for Dr. Roble who has been an incredible model for her children – how grateful we are that Saint Paul College is a part of all their lives. She has been an exemplary example at St. Kate’s for the caliber of students we have at Saint Paul College.”
-Rassoul Dastmozd, President/CEO

Throughout her years of schooling, Roble believes the educational foundation she built at Saint Paul College was invaluable. “When I began at St. Catherine, everybody was asking me where I went to school,” says Roble. “They were all amazed by the quality of education I received at Saint Paul College.”

“Saint Paul College is a great place to start. You can continue on to an advanced degree at another college or start your career right after graduation. To fulfill your dreams, all the resources are here,” says Wossen Tsegaw, practical nursing instructor. “Pathway advisors can help students determine which classes will apply to a higher degree at another college.”

A Family Tradition

Today, the four kids who saw their mom studying so hard throughout their childhood are now college-age themselves – and they are all attending Saint Paul College. “My children have enjoyed attending Saint Paul College very much, and as a mother, I appreciate the fact that it is such a great value for a high-quality education,” says Roble. “My oldest son recently graduated from the nursing program and is now attending a four-year college, my middle son is a computer science major and plans to attend the U of M, my daughter is in the practical nursing program, and my youngest son also intends to pursue a medical-field degree at Saint Paul College.”

Dedication Drives Success

As a nurse practitioner for a local nonprofit, Roble now enjoys caring for her geriatric patients. “I see a lot of elderly patients, many of them from minority communities, with health issues such as kidney failure and diabetes,” says Roble. “My schedule is full, my clinic is great, and I really like making a difference in the lives of my patients.”

Her advice to other potential first-generation college students is that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

“If you have a goal, you can reach it,” says Roble. “I earned my doctorate in nursing with a belief that I could do anything, but I am not smarter than anyone else. My secret of success was simply keeping the doors and my heart wide open to new experiences and never giving up.”
-Dr. Zahra Roble

St. Kate’s Complete at Saint Paul CollegeComplete your associate degree at Saint Paul College, and be ready to transition seamlessly to a St. Catherine University bachelor’s degree.Why St. Kate's?Finish in as little as 24 monthsFree transfer evaluationTutoring and academic support + career counselingFinancial aid availableTransferring to St. Kate’s is fast and hassle-free.learn more at

This article originally appeared in our College Magazine - Spring 2019. Download a free copy to read more stories like this one.

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