Nurse Practitioner, Commencement Speaker finds passion in providing care for those in need

As a nontraditional student, Jessica Schnebly has a passion for providing care to those in need and has gone from working as a professional photographer, a nurse and, now, a family nurse practitioner.

Schnebly will speak at the School of Nursing Graduate and Undergraduate Students Commencement.

Schnebly has earned multiple degrees: she graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2000 with a Bachelors of Arts Cinema and Photography degree, Lincoln Land Community College in 2012 with an Associates Degree of Nursing Science, SIUE in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Nursing Science degree and will now graduate from SIUE a second time with a degree in Doctorate of Nursing Practice this semester.

Schnebly participated in a research assistantship for the Psychology Department at SIUE and went on a global service trip to Saint-Marc, Haiti in October 2018.

Schnebly said she was nervous to be a speaker at first, but is excited to be chosen.

“I had to think about it and was like, ‘Wait a second, I don’t know,’ but after thinking about it, I saw it as a good opportunity, and I was kind of happy to be nominated. So, I realized I should take this on as an accomplishment and a challenge and went for it,” Schnebly said.

Schnebly worked as a professional photographer before pursuing nursing.

“I’m a visual person, and I love photography, and I still have a camera, I still take pictures,” Schnebly said. “I didn’t want to have [photography] as a career path. I did work in advertising for eight years, and then I did wedding photography while I was in nursing school, and I felt like I had a pretty successful career doing that, but I just couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life.”

Schnebly said when she moved to Illinois she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue nursing.

“I moved here from Phoenix about 10 years ago, and I wanted to do something different. My mom’s a nurse, and I learned about nursing through her and decided that sounded like a good career opportunity for me — something that I can help people and do something that felt fulfilling and satisfying,” Schnebly said.

Assistant Clinical Professor Valerie Griffin said Schnebly showed compassion during the global service trip.

“[Schnebly] shows a lot of compassion in the field of nursing and for the global service experiences, obviously you have to want to commit to the underserved, and while we were there she really showed leadership and compassion to the people we encountered,” Griffin said. “She’s a strong student and she gets great reviews by predecessors as well as the people in the professional community.”

Schnebly’s husband Steve Schnebly said his wife is an amazing person and her journey to becoming a family nurse practitioner has not been easy.

“Jessica is kind, hard working, compassionate, dedicated and fun-loving,” Steve Schnebly said. “The fact that Jessica was able to complete her degree while part of the time being full time and part of the time being part time [as a nurse], managing life, maintaining her sanity, taking care of me, the dogs and our friends and still being able to juggle all those things is really phenomenal.”

Jessica Schnelby’s commencement speech will be about why nurses are important in healthcare.

“I decided to talk about the values that I think are important in nursing that nurses should have, then I kind of do it as a metaphor to traveling,” Jessica Schnebly said. “I also talk about how I think nurses — which I do believe strongly — help make change happen in healthcare.”

Jessica Schnebly said SIUE has helped her get through school and work at the same time.

“[My experience] has been great and SIUE has really helped me succeed in terms of the way the classes are structured,” Jessica Schnebly said. “It’s been very easy to work and go to school at the same time and in general I think it is a good institution and [SIUE and SIUC] has prepared me for both careers that I’ve had.”


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