They have worked together, gone to college together and Wednesday they will graduate together, among the first graduates of Western University of Health Sciences' College of Dental Medicine.
The first graduates from the College of Dental Medicine, the College of Optometry and the College of Podiatric Medicine will gather at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Wednesday morning for the programs' inaugural graduation ceremony. The ceremony kicks off three days of graduations for the university's nine colleges.
The Snyders, who live in Ontario, admit they took a chance when they enrolled in the four-year dental program.
"It was a risk worth taking because we are very well prepared as dentists," Luisa said.
Although Western University's College of Dental Medicine was a new program, Luisa said the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific is well-respected and has a record of community involvement.
Being part of the College of Dental Medicine's first class has allowed students to contribute to the program's development.
"The program has really valued our opinion," she said. "We have been able to shape, I think, the program. "
Western University President Philip Pumerantz said the university began preparations for the three colleges seven years ago.
"It's a historic time for Western University," he said of Wednesday's graduations.
Opening the three colleges simultaneously brought such challenges as assembling buildings, faculty and leadership for each college, but "we've overcome those challenges," he said.
Nathan Snyder said the university is a place where people from different disciplines collaborate to provide the best possible care.
That collaborative spirit exists outside the classroom and professional environment as well, he said.
Soon after the Snyders arrived at the campus, a student in the osteopathic program made a point of making them feel welcome, helping them make their way around the university and answering their questions.
"He is an embodiment of how Western University is," Nathan said.
Luisa, 27, and Nathan, 28, met as teenagers in Guatemala.
Nathan had just graduated from high school and went to Central America to do volunteer work before college.
He soon met Luisa, who was completing high school.
Neither spoke the other's language, but they developed a relationship.
Nathan returned to the United States, but the two kept in touch and he later moved to Guatemala.
About a year later, the couple married and moved to Oregon.
Luisa had already begun dental school in Guatemala, but once in Oregon she focused on developing her English skills.
The Snyders worked at a gas station together, attended community college and Oregon State University, where they both majored in biology.
Luisa knew she wanted to attend dental school but was advised to consider becoming a dental hygienist or assistant because entering dental school was so competitive, she recalled.
But she always had the support of her husband.
"I thought, 'She definitely needs to go to dental school,'" Nathan said. "And I knew I wanted to do something with health care. "
Nathan was exploring becoming a pharmacist, but the more he heard Luisa talk about dental medicine the more curious he became.
He decided to learn more by shadowing a dentist and found his calling.
After graduation, the Snyders will be in a residency program for the coming year.
The are also expecting their first child in November.