Student, soldier, entrepreneur, mom

Clad in a yellow gown, Artinsia Shakir settles onto a stool in front of the mother and sees the top of the baby's head beginning to crown. She puts out her hand like a traffic cop to stop the baby from popping out.


"The baby is coming," she said, her voice rising. Within minutes she will deliver the child to the cheers of classmates, help clean it up and place it on the mother's chest. Her instructor, Peter Way, stands on the other side of the birthing simulator in the School of Nursing at the Medical College of Georgia and praises her response to the exercise.

"Your reaction is perfect," he said, as the mannequinlike simulator sits silent. "There's the head. Stop!" He raises his hand like she did.

"You don't want the baby to slip out," Mrs. Shakir said.

She seems to be living three lives at once: She is a nursing student who plans to graduate with a bachelor's degree in May; she is in ROTC at Augusta State University, where she plans to become a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve; and she and her husband, Supply Sgt. Wali Shakir, started a restaurant in April, Zee's Southern Cuisine.

"And she's a parent, she's a mom," said Rebecca Rule, director of undergraduate programs for the MCG School of Nursing. "She's an exceptional person and an exceptional student. I don't know how she does it all, quite frankly."

"Organization and communication," Mrs. Shakir said. "That's how we find time to do it."

She and her husband sit down on Sunday and figure out who will do what and who will pick up their 4-year-old son, Manaen. Her mother, Jean Isom, knows to call on Sunday and offer her help, for which the family is grateful.

"I tell her, 'Mom, how did we make it here without you?' " Mrs. Shakir said. Ms. Isom moved from Washington state to be with the family, and one of Mrs. Shakir's younger sisters, Inika, came with her.

It was Inika's illness seven years ago, and the care she got, that inspired Mrs. Shakir to take on nursing. The night of Inika's high school graduation, the sisters were riding around in her new car.

"She stopped at the stop sign. And we were all just talking," Mrs. Shakir said. "And then we noticed that she was moving out into traffic, and we were like, 'Wait-wait-wait-wait-wait.' She didn't see all of these cars on the left side coming at her.' "

She would later have an accident and develop headaches, which led to a CT scan that found a brain tumor pressing an optic nerve. Inika was rushed to Seattle Children's Hospital for surgery and spent three to four months recovering, Ms. Isom said.

It was the nurses there who really made an impression on Mrs. Shakir, then a medic in the Army.

"My mother kept a radio in my sister's room to play her favorite Christian music even though she was not conscious," she said. "Even when we weren't there, they would go in and turn the music on low. They would do things that just went beyond. They didn't have to care as much as they did."

And it is that kind of care she strives to deliver.

"I tell patients, I'm going to treat you just like you're my own family," she said. "You're going to get that treatment, the best I can."

It starts with having the right attitude, she said.

"I feel it takes a special person to be a nurse," Mrs. Shakir said. "The money is good; you do have a job wherever you go. But you need to remember that it is about the patient; it is about the patient's values; it's about the patient's culture; it's about the patient's choices. It's not about you."

And if all of that wasn't enough, the family decided to take on the restaurant business, opening Zee's Southern Cuisine in April on Tobacco Road.

"There wasn't an actual sit-down, dine-in family place" in the area, she said. Named for Mrs. Shakir's mother-in-law, it is soul food but without fatback or pork flavoring everything. That is a nod to his wife's health care background, Sgt. Shakir said. The menu features Kool-Aid and sweet tea but no soda.

Even though it is midafternoon, the place is bustling and the parking lot nearly full.

Ms. Isom has a chance to sit in a booth with her daughters for a moment, and Mrs. Shakir has a rare moment to sit and talk.

"Tinsia is just a very phenomenal woman," Ms. Isom said, her eyes shining with pride.

"Thank you, Mom," Mrs. Shakir replies quietly.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or


AGE: 29

EDUCATION: Medical College of Georgia School of Nursing class of 2009, working to earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing; ROTC program at Augusta State University

FAMILY: Husband, Supply Sgt. Wali Shakir; son, Manaen; mother, Jean Isom; sisters, Inika and Cambra Isom