Alicia Cooper refers to the Ruth Pate Memorial Nursing Scholarship and the Beazley Foundation Nursing Scholarship she recently received as “amazing blessings.”

“I am able to focus more on school and lighten the employment workload,” said Cooper, who balances her academics with being a wife, mother to her 4-year-old and being a case manager for a stroke patient. After one semester in the nursing program at Tidewater Community College, she holds a 4.0 grade-point average.

The 2005 First Colonial High graduate spent the last decade trying to decide on the right career path. Her own miscarriage at 20 weeks and caring for her ailing grandparents convinced her that nursing was the best choice.

“Those were turning points,” Cooper said. “I felt like if I could handle death and reality with my own family, then I could do it in a distance relationship.”

Like her mother, Cooper became a certified nursing assistant, but wanted to advance her career further. She began her prerequisites for TCC‘s nursing program in 2012 and was admitted last fall with anticipated graduation in 2016.

“I love how flexible TCC is, especially since I’m working and have a child,” she said. “I can sign up for classes on different campuses. I took some of my science classes at the Norfolk Campus; I took English in Virginia Beach, and of course, my nursing requirements in Portsmouth.”

The faculty and hands-on clinical experience are her favorite parts of nursing school. Cooper plans to transfer to Old Dominion University’s bachelor’s program after TCC.

“When I do something, I like to do it well, and I like to be at the top,” said Cooper, who wants to eventually open her own geriatric facility in Florida. “The scholarships and a grant I received have definitely helped with that”