Grace Zimmerman looks to the future
Grace Zimmerman, the valedictorian for the Class of 2014 at Naselle/Grays River High School graduated on Saturday. The daughter of April and Thomas Zimmerman of Grays River finished her studies with a GPA of 3.98 and will attend Pacific Lutheran University in the fall to study nursing. Eventually she plans to work as a nurse missionary.
Raised on the family farm and home schooled along with three other sisters, she jumped at the chance to attend public high school when her parents gave her the option.
“My life took a 180 that year,” Zimmerman said. “It was time to explore other things. I wanted to push myself outside my comfort zone. I thought it would force me to make a plan for my life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or even what I was interested in or passionate about.
“I knew people in my class because I’d seen them around,” she continued. “My best friend Shalin Wulf had decided to attend public school too. We kind of held on to each other as we made other friends. It was nice to have a buddy that first day.”
She had to learn how to unlock her locker, catch a bus and discover the purpose of ‘home room.’
“The transition was tough, but I’m very thankful for it,” Zimmerman said. “It has given me a lot of confidence. I’ve realized that I’m fully capable and intelligent and can do things on my own and I can figure stuff out.”
If pushed, her favorite teacher is Mr. Wise, but she’s quick to point out there are many good teachers.
“He teaches English and math. He is really good at motivating students, but he’s also a lot of fun.”
She has been conditionally accepted into the nursing program at PLU.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” Zimmerman said. “It’s hard to get into. I think there will be a lot of opportunities there. They just got a new study abroad trip for the nursing program in Namibia. Hopefully I will get to do that.”
It was the four mission trips to Baja, Mexico, that solidified her ambitions.
“I realized I really wanted to be there and I liked being with the kids.”
Zimmerman had considered traveling to Africa or the Philippines for more mission trips, but the serious young woman knew she had more important things to do.
“I needed to settle down and focus on school and earn money for college,” she said.
As for future missions, she hasn’t settled on a place.
I don’t know where my heart is set on right now. Africa seems ideal, intriguing, a fun place to go and experience. I could end up anywhere. It’s exciting.
Zimmerman sings and plays several instruments including the bass clarinet, the marimbas, the guitar and ukulele. She was active in several school plays and in the drama club, acting as secretary this year.
“Drama has been a huge part of my experience, “Zimmerman said. “It was my spring sport.”