The Cooley family from Midland, Texas, will celebrate an Aggie trifecta when Emily and Sarah Cooley, both class of 2019, graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the Texas A&M University College of Nursing in August. They join their sister, Helen Cooley ’14, who also graduated from Texas A&M with her BSN.
Often mistaken for twins, Emily is two years older than Sarah and both are only months away from achieving their goal of becoming Aggie nurses. “I was enrolled in dual credit courses,” said Sarah. “I graduated from high school early and completed my prerequisite courses in time to be admitted to the nursing program at the same time as Emily.”
With several nurses and other health care professionals in the family, nursing has interested both sisters since childhood. “I want to know at the end of my career that I invested the life that God gave me to complete something meaningful every day,” said Emily. “And, it needs to be something that I enjoy and respect. Nursing meets these criteria and more.”
“The nursing profession includes a wide variety of roles and avenues for service,” added Sarah. “However, it wasn’t until I realized that nursing is a balance of both service and intellectual challenges that I decided to pursue it.”
Becoming Aggie Nurses
Their mother, Susan Cooley ’83, suggested that they consider Texas A&M. “Mom always says there is no place like Aggieland and stressed Texas A&M’s quality education,” said Emily. “She had no complaints when we were admitted.” It was the college’s reputation for graduating high caliber nurses, who daily demonstrate their academic strength, empathy, and passion for patients and nursing that drew the sisters to the program. “My own class cohort exceeds that expectation daily, with men and women who are going to change thousands of patients’ lives,” said Emily.
The positive endorsement was echoed by their sister. “Helen also had positive things to say about her time as a nursing student at Texas A&M,” said Sarah. “She noted that she was taught by exceptional faculty, a fact that has held true through my time at the college. The faculty are student-focused and dedicated to providing the best nursing education possible.”
As sisters and best friends, Emily and Sarah navigate nursing school both as individuals and as a team. “We spend a lot of time together, but we prefer studying independently,” said Emily. “If one of us has a question, we’ll talk it through together, but we are aware of the need to develop our individual critical thinking and problem-solving skills. If one of us ever questions an emergency intervention in a real clinical setting, there is no ‘call a sister’ option.” However, being independent doesn’t mean they aren’t leveraging their family connection.
“We have the same course schedule and share many clinicals and group projects,” said Sarah. “We enjoy having opportunities to work together and since we live together, we have more time and flexibility to work on joint projects.”
After their first year of nursing school, the experience had already exceeded their expectations, both inside and outside of the classroom. Emily and Sarah serve as College of Nursing Ambassadors, giving college tours, visiting with distinguished guests and supporting college events.
“I am proud to represent the college as a student ambassador. I have deep respect for the faculty, administration and my class cohort,” said Emily. “Being an ambassador allows me to engage with classmates and administration, interact with future students who are interested in health care, and develop my leadership skills while giving back to the college.”
Emily thinks that she may begin her nursing career in the operating room, and Sarah in the intensive care unit, but both sisters share a passion for someday serving in the mission field.
“Being trained to intervene in simple or complex cases gives us an incredible opportunity in caring for underserved populations,” said Emily. “Access to quality health care is a critical concern for many patients.” Barriers to receiving health care include cost, a shortage of primary care providers and taking time off from work, to name a few.
“There is such a need to improve access to health care,” said Sarah. “There is a high mortality rate, especially in developing countries, from relatively common conditions that can be successfully treated through medication or minor surgery.” Utilizing their nursing skills in the mission field is one way that Emily and Sarah plan to give back.
Scholarships for Nursing Students
Emily and Sarah each received Dean’s Scholarships from the College of Nursing, as well as a community-based scholarship, which helped to ease the financial pressure of attending college.
“Receiving these scholarships has allowed me to focus on becoming the best nurse possible,” said Sarah. “Knowing that someone has invested in me to become an Aggie nurse motivates me to work even harder and to use my own resources in the future to help other students.”
Gifts like the funds that support Emily and Sarah can help solve the critical statewide nursing shortage by funding scholarships, programs, and faculty recruitment and retention initiatives. To learn how you can create scholarships for Aggie nursing students, contact Patty Rabel ’80 at email@example.com or (979) 436-0175.