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Graduate Success Spotlight on Astrid Cooper, MACP, MFTI, LVN

Astrid Cooper has been fascinated with all things medical and maternal since she was 10 years old when she would watch her aunt breastfeed her infant cousin. She grew up in a bilingual household. A gifted student throughout her life, she speaks both English and French and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Ecology from UC Irvine and a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles. Not content to stop there, she made a career change to nursing, and enrolled in the LVN program at West Coast Ultrasound Institute in Beverly Hills. She was a star student and a wonderful example of hard work in the classroom, and a natural ability to empathize with people and patients that is often the hallmark of a great nurse. She learned from the teachings and mentoring of Dr. Asefa Mekonnen, MSN, FMD, NP; Myra Chason, BSN, ARDMS; and Nursing Director Karen Hall, MSN, APRN; and achieved a milestone in her passion of nursing in September 2013 by successfully completing the Vocational Nursing program at WCUI and in 2014, passing the state licensing exam to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse!

Upon leaving WCUI she gained clinical experience with a homecare agency, and being the ambitious learner that she is, began simultaneous training as a Postpartum Doula with Doulas of North America (DONA) and as a Childbirth Educator with Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA). Astrid has used her unique combination of training and expertise to provide exceptional Baby Planning services to expectant parents both here in Los Angeles and nationwide. She also finds joy in planning baby showers and baby registries, organizing the baby’s nursery, shopping for maternity wear, and even assisting parents in writing birth plans. Another hobby of hers has become organizing and planning weddings, including one Los Angeles wedding for a treasured girlfriend who was in her 2nd trimester and living on the East Coast.

Astrid embodies the unique qualities of clinical skill, work ethic, intelligence, and bedside manner that make her a standout graduate from WCUI. The school's reputation for outstanding graduates continues to grow in the communities around us thanks to people like Astrid. We are very proud to call her part of our West Coast Family! See below for the full interview.

1.   What got you interested in NURSING?  Was there a moment when something “clicked” and you knew you wanted to be a NURSE?

I was an undergraduate student at UC-Irvine 20 years ago when I first became interested in Nursing.  For me, the philosophy in nursing of "caring is more attractive than curing" in medicine was important to me. I was an athlete and a dancer when I was younger and have had multiple surgeries. It takes a multi-disciplinary team to take care of patients post-operatively. However, the nurses do a bulk of the work once the surgeons stitch you up.    

2.  What have you accomplished in NURSING that you are most proud of?

While attending nursing school, I trained as a Labor and Postpartum Doula and Childbirth Educator, so with my Vocational Nursing degree, and my business,, I am able to market myself to support the mother’s and baby's health as well and also assist parents with medically fragile newborns.

3.  What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today in a position of success?

I have always had a hard time with math - it was really a question of applying myself and being focused on the end goal; however, chemistry had always been very difficult.  I finally looked at Vocational Nursing as a stepping stone into the nursing field. I would highly recommend anyone interested in the nursing field not to stop at the Vocational Nursing level. One can accomplish so much more when you earn at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and hold a Registered Nursing license, if not going even further in attaining the master’s level.

4.  Who are the role models in your life and how have they inspired you and helped you become successful?

My grandmother was a Licensed Vocational Nurse in Texas.  She passed away while I was in nursing school. At my graduation dinner, my dad gave me all of her transcripts, diploma, and nursing pin.

5.  Tell me about some of memorable patients that you have cared for. 

I'll never forget the first hospice patient and family I worked with. It was a humbling and honoring experience. To be able to explain the patients illness and outcome, the fact the patient was near the end of their life and bear witness to the family say their farewells, was memorable.

6.  What advice would you give a student who is just starting out in NURSING school?

At the time I made the right decision for me.  The advantage of a Vocational Nursing program is that it gives you a really good start in nursing.  It gives you the opportunity to work and continue your education.

7.  What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 

Hang out with my family and friends as well as my dog.

8.  What is one of your favorite memories from your time here at WCUI?

What I loved about WCUI was the intimate family setting and small class sizes. I always felt supported by the school. 

9.  How would your past instructors or coworkers describe you? 

My patients ALWAYS come first! Their needs and their best interests are ALWAYS the priority. Period!

10.  What makes you unique? 

When I was at WCUI,I already had both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. The majority of students attending Vocational Nursing programs have completed high school and maybe some college courses. I was also a more mature student. I was just shy of 40 years old when I began my course work at WCUI.

11.  What is one of the hardest things about your job/externship?

For our maternal-child term, we had some great instructors who were also nurse practitioners.   To have the challenge of working in the community, seeing them in the trenches, was really amazing. 

12.   What goals do you have for yourself in the field of NURSING?

I have a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and I am going to complete my hours towards licensure as a Marriage Family Therapist and do that in addition to nursing.

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