A neuroscience graduate, Maya Zeemont ’16 held her first postgraduate gig at Planned Parenthood in Northern California, where she has worked as a reproductive health specialist for the past two years.
This fall, Maya will be attending the Yale School of Nursing, with goals to become a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) specializing in adolescent health and working with transgender youth.
How did your experiences at Oberlin inform your postgraduate trajectory?
I have always been interested in health care and human biology, but I never felt a strong pull toward medical school. Nor was scientific research at the forefront of my professional goals, which was sometimes frustrating given that the sciences at Oberlin are research-focused. I had to be self-motivated in seeking out information about alternative health care careers.
‘I reached out to friends, professors, and alumni who had connections across the field of health care. That’s how I got my job at Planned Parenthood and, ultimately, found my path to advanced-practice nursing—a clinical practice that emphasizes comprehensive, patient-centered care.
What did you look for in a nursing program?
Given that I hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing subject, I sought a "master’s entry" program, in which students complete an accelerated curriculum in the first year for nursing basics, followed by two years to focus in a specialty area—for me, pediatrics. Yale’s nursing program stood out to me as it feels like the "liberal arts" program of nursing schools. Yale Nursing emphasises a holistic approach to learning: embracing the balance between the scientific skills of nursing practice, as well as the artistic and interpersonal side.
What has it been like working at Planned Parenthood?
I have been lucky to work as a reproductive health specialist, in which I work directly with patients as a health educator, counselor, and medical assistant—a level of independence rare among entry-level clinical jobs. I have especially loved the hands-on clinical experiences; I administer injections and blood draws, assist clinicians with procedures, and counsel patients through challenging circumstances.
I have also had the unique opportunity to work extensively in trans and gender-expansive care and hormone replacement therapy. I handle intake of patients initiating gender affirming hormone therapies and instruct them how to self-inject their medications. On multiple occasions, patients have allowed me to inject their first doses of hormones. It has been a privilege to participate in these pivotal, life-changing moments and recognize the meaningful impact of my work firsthand.
How did you become interested in working with adolescents?
My passion for working with kids and teens developed throughout my time as a camp counselor, in which I started with 8-year-old campers and followed them for seven consecutive summers. I observed firsthand the immense physical, emotional, and intellectual changes that characterize adolescent development. While that can make relating to adolescents challenging, I felt particularly motivated by their plasticity and my ability to make a positive impact on their lives.
At Planned Parenthood, I have found that my visits with young teen patients are the most rewarding, since they trust me for support and are able to take control of their own health! I am excited to continue my work in adolescent and gender-affirming health care as a pediatric nurse practitioner. I hope to someday work in a teen clinic and child/adolescent "gender center."
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