WCU Alumni Spotlight: Zaccheaus Chimedza

A first-generation college student and immigrant, Zaccheaus Chimedza hopes to inspire West Coast University students and alumni to stay true to their dreams — even if the road seems long.

“I grew up in the capital of Zambia, a beautiful place with a lot of poverty,” Zaccheaus said. “I don’t think my parents completed more than the seventh grade. The desire to be a healthcare professional and complete an education with my background has not been easy.”

As a child in Lusaka, Zambia, Zaccheaus lost both parents at an early age. His father died when Zaccheaus was 7; and at age 15, his mother died after spending two weeks in and out of the hospital.

At her bedside, Zaccheaus found himself frustrated with the lack of resources to help treat his mother and the lack of answers from the hospital workers. When they were notified, Zaccheaus said, he was to learn they hadn’t been included in the patient care plan.

Hopeless and overwhelmed, Zaccheaus said that’s when his desire to go into healthcare really started.

“I wanted to have that healthcare knowledge so I could help explain what was going on and understand what steps were needed to have someone recover from an illness or be able to pass peacefully,” Zaccheaus said.

Two years after his mother’s death, Zaccheaus left Zambia to tour the United States with a professional singing group. For the next three years, Zaccheaus said he spent time traveling, singing a cappella, and meeting new people — and healing.

After considering what he wanted to achieve in life, Zaccheaus recalled his painful personal experience and decided to become a nurse, ultimately enrolling at West Coast University in Texas.

While researching where to go to school, Zaccheaus said he found it difficult navigating through the policies and applications of some universities. One of the reasons he liked WCU, he said, was its straightforward eligibility requirements and the clear path to graduation.

“How many people are out there like me that have the drive to become good healthcare providers, but because of their history they aren’t able to move forward?” he asked. “A lot of schools didn’t give me this opportunity and I’m so thankful WCU gave me the chance to accomplish my dreams.”

Eventually graduating magna cum laude in 2017, Zaccheaus passed the NCLEX on his first try and is working toward his master’s in nursing with WCU online. For the past three years, Zaccheaus has worked as a registered nurse in the nationally recognized Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, California.

“My opportunity to interview at CHOC came in part from one of my WCU Oxford Honors classmates from a different campus,” Zaccheaus said. “She was working as an administrative assistant at CHOC and eventually introduced me to my current manager.”

Zaccheaus said he loves the family-centered approach at CHOC “since it is the family who knows the patient best.” He remembers the poor care his mother received and how his family was excluded, he said, so he strives to provide a better holistic care approach to his patients and their families.

“Pediatric healthcare is a partnership between healthcare providers and the family,” Zaccheaus said.

Besides growing professionally, Zaccheaus and his wife became parents for the first time in 2020.

“My wife and I have traveled all over the world — we have had such a good foundation for our marriage,” Zaccheaus said. “It’s nice to start this new journey of parenting together.”

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