Alumna helps community with medical degree

Besides raising a family and going to school full time, recent Sonoma State graduate Jackie Anderson has a story that would surprise many.

As a 47-year-old returning to college after a long break, Anderson completed and received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Sonoma State in 2011. From there she enrolled in Georgetown University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner program to get her Master’s (MSN FNP), and is planning to graduate in 2014.

A large part of the reason she is getting her masters is to one day return to what she did for six years, but with a better medical abilities. From 2002 to 2008 she and her family lived in Jos, Nigeria. With help from the Rafiki Foundation, she and her family were part of a group of people who came to Nigeria as a non-government foundation, where they helped establish and grow a self-sufficient village.

Rafiki Foundation says their goals are to create villages that provide living, educational, and medical facilities through Rafiki’s five programs; childcare, education, bible study, advanced learning and widows.

Anderson was involved in helping develop most of the programs. From almost nothing the foundation was able to grow an orphanage, a school for the children there, a widows program that created jobs for widows, and a clinic for those in need of medical assistance.

In her first two years in Nigeria Anderson personally helped process and receive over 70 orphaned children into the newly created village. From there she also became a teacher of the pre-k and kindergarteners.

She also designed and oversaw the creation of a four-room clinic that would treat any person in need of medical attention. Additionally she acted as a nurse herself and helped diagnose and treat patients. Besides the clinic, she would go out on quarterly community clinics that offered medical care to hundreds of patients.

“My life’s mantra has always been ‘health and hope.’ The world is big, and I desire to work globally,” said Anderson. “Family is where life happens. I desire to equip families to live well together.”

Anderson’s life seems to reflect her mantra. Her two oldest children are biological, but later in life she and her husband adopted two more, ages 2 and 3, from Sonoma County Foster Care. 

Almost 15 years later she received a call saying that the two children she adopted actually had another sibling they previously didn’t know about, so about a year and a half ago they started fostering the 14 year old from Valley of the Moon.

“The reason we do the things we do is because of God, to show people God’s love by helping others,” said Anderson.

The Anderson family is steadily involved in their church, The Rock in Santa Rosa, where they have been attending since returning to the United States. 

While she and her family are happy here now, Anderson has great plans for the future.

“Our retirement plan is to help others,” said Anderson. “With my degree I could better treat as well as help teach others who need medical attention with what is available to them.” 

She and her husband plan to either return to Nigeria or another country where help is needed.