Zachary, Hannah and Spencer Shumway have something in common that’s as priceless as biological kinship.

The siblings, all Yavapai College nursing students, share a desire to ease the suffering of people whose lives are upended by illness or injury.

The brothers and sister found their way to nursing school at different stages in their lives, Zachary and Hannah after pursuing other careers, but all out of compassion for others.

Evidently the healing gene runs in the family. The Shumway siblings --reunited for the first time in weeks for a joint interview and all wearing signature YC teal scrubs – revealed that both their youngest sister and mom are certified nursing assistants or CNAs.

Spencer, 20, the fourth of a total of six siblings, will be the first to graduate with a nursing degree earned at the Prescott campus this spring. The married father of an 11-month old daughter, initially pursued engineering until calculus class pushed him in a different direction. “I decided this isn’t really fun anymore,” he said of calculus.

Spencer became a CNA in 2020 to experience the healthcare field firsthand and determined that nursing was the career for him. “I chose nursing because I like helping people with their health and I am passionate about the science behind overall health and wellbeing,” he said.

Zachary, 30, the second oldest of six, followed his heart into healthcare after working  as a stone mason and engraver for many years. He is a second-semester student at the Prescott campus. “I always wanted to be in healthcare in one form or another,” he said.

A first-semester nursing student at the Verde Valley Campus, Hannah, 26, followed her brothers to YC’s Nursing Program after earning her associate’s degree at YC in 2017 and unsuccessfully attempting pre-nursing at Brigham Young University. Disillusioned with her performance and with college during the pandemic, she went to work as a corporate trainer. “But after a couple years of doing that my heart wanted to be back in Arizona and I wanted to do something more with my life,” she said.

Hannah expected her second attempt at nursing school to be tough, but knowing her brothers were up to the challenge motivated her. “It helped me go back in with a little bit more confidence and knowledge that it is actually doable,” she said.

Being third in line in school, Hannah said she has benefited from the encouragement and support of her entire family and from study help from both brothers. Zach has been akin to a mentor, she said. “He would never let me fail and I’m grateful for that because I’m never going to be that straight-A student.”

Even while working as a CNA at YRMC in Prescott to support his young family, Spencer said he has enjoyed nursing school. “I study a lot. I prepare a lot. I even like pharmacology,” he said, drawing astonished looks from Hannah and Zachary about the subject considered to be one of the most difficult for aspiring nurses.

Zachary and Hannah also are working in healthcare as students. The experience, Zach said, “has only made me more interested in nursing.”

The Shumways credit their father, Brad, a retired miner and farmer, for encouraging them to pursue higher education.

“Our family is transitioning. Whereas a lot of our family were miners in the past, the four of us (including sister Elliza the CNA who is considering nursing school after high school) are stepping away from blue-collar jobs,” Zachary said. “Our father believes that knowledge is power and it’s important for us to be educated.”

The family matriarch, Jodee, meanwhile, is the source of her children’s compassion, the siblings said.  “Mom is  very kind. She always taught us to show charity, love and kindness. She was always doing service growing up. It’s ingrained into us. Now any of my siblings would give the shirt off their back to anybody,” Hannah said.

Both Shumway parents gifted their children a strong work ethic.

“Growing up on a farm (in Dewey), none of us are afraid of hard work. We were taught to work hard. And because of that, I don’t think working hard as a nurse scares anyone,” Zachary said, adding, “It’s a great job because it provides value. You’re helping people out. And it opens up a lot of doors to places where you can advance.”

Spencer plans to explore a variety of nursing roles after graduating, including possibly being a flight nurse. “There are so many great learning opportunities that I want to take advantage of and I am very excited to work alongside a lot of great people in a great field,” he said.

Zachary’s dream is to become a physician’s assistant, while Hannah would like to work in a hospital setting but currently is focused on succeeding in school. All three plan to pursue bachelor’s degrees, likely at YC, which began offering nursing bachelor’s degrees last fall.

The realization that he’s just weeks from finishing the initial step in his nursing journey is “freeing,” Spencer said. “It has been a huge loss of sleep, but it’s worth it,” he said.

For information about the YC Nursing Program, visit

Yavapai College operates six campuses and centers throughout Yavapai County and offers over 100 degrees and certificates, two baccalaureate degrees, student and community services, and cultural events and activities.

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