HFEC student and Mirror News writer Zynab Al-Timimi aspires to medical career

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Portrait of Zynab Al-Timimi.

For Henry Ford Early College (HFEC) student Zynab Al-Timimi, medicine is her passion, and writing is her hobby.

Fortunately, HFC has allowed her to pursue both. Al-Timimi, of Dearborn Heights, is finishing her final semester in HFC’s Respiratory Therapist program and is the media editor for The Mirror News, HFC’s student-run newspaper. Recently, at this year’s Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper Conference, she won Second Place in the Division 3 – Non-Front Page Design category for “Detroit Riverwalk Wins USA Today Best Riverwalk for Third Straight Year.”

“I’ve always loved to write,” said Al-Timimi. “I took an English class at HFC a few years ago that was taught by Sarah Soebbing. She recommended that I speak to her fellow English instructor, Dr. Peter Kim, The Mirror News faculty advisor. Dr. Kim interviewed and hired me. I started out as a freelance writer (during the 2022-23 academic year) and am now the media editor. Dr. Kim has been extremely helpful. He’s given me great opportunities to meet new people and discover new places and write about them. He always has great advice about writing.”

Dual passions in writing and health care

HFEC is a partnership between HFC, the Dearborn Public Schools, and Henry Ford Health (HFH) in coordination with the Wayne County Regional Educational Services Agency (RESA) and the Michigan Board of Education. It is a 5-year program in which students can simultaneously complete high school, earn college credits leading to an associate degree, and receive certification in an allied health profession.

This spring, Al-Timimi will earn her diploma from HFEC and her associate degree in respiratory therapy from HFC. Her younger brother, Mohammad, is also enrolled in HFEC.

“I knew I wanted to work in a hospital setting. HFEC offered all these programs in the health field and were willing to pay for them,” she explained. “I knew I wanted to have experience in clinical rotations. I thought about being a surgical technologist, but I went into respiratory therapy after doing some deep research and ended up loving it.”

This fall, Al-Timimi will transfer to the University of Michigan-Flint, where she will finish her bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy. She aspires to become a doctor and plans to attend the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

“Zynab never ceases to amaze me. She started as a freelancer then moved up to staff writer and media editor, all while completing a challenging degree program in respiratory therapy,” said Kim. “Her interest in reporting, photography, and writing adds to her many gifts. Zynab plans to pursue medical school, where she will be a compassionate and very capable health care professional. I hope she continues to write even after she completes her medical degree.”

“The best program, and we want to keep it that way”

Kim is not the only HFC instructor who has had an influence on Al-Timimi. HFC Director of Clinical Education of the Respiratory Therapist program Teena Culhane and HFC Director of the Respiratory Therapist program Kim Najarian have also inspired her.

“They really pushed me to work hard,” said Al-Timimi. “They don’t sugarcoat it. They want to make you a great respiratory therapist. They push you to be your best. Both of them have been willing to write great letters of recommendation on my behalf.”

HFC has fully prepared Al-Timimi for UM-Flint.

“My teachers prepared me very well – from clinicals to attending conferences. I’m happy and grateful for them,” she said. “They truly challenge you here at HFC. They don’t give it to you; you have to earn it. Ms. Najarian always says to us, ‘HFC’s Respiratory Therapist program is the best one and we want to keep it that way.’ Hospital administrators have contacted her, informing her that HFC has wonderful students and it feels like we’ve been working in the field forever instead of having just graduated.”

Al-Timimi continued: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at the College. Everybody is friendly and it’s so diverse. I’m impressed by the diversity, the students, and the support you get from teachers. It’s a wonderful community that feels like a village. It seems like everybody knows everybody else. I still stop by and say hello to some of my old professors, who are very welcoming. Even if I didn’t attend HFEC, I’m sure that life would have led me here to HFC to study respiratory therapy.”

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