Mom Inspires Daughter’s Journey from WCU Nursing Student to Faculty Member

Alyza Sunny in cap and gown.

Inspiration comes in many different forms, and for Alyza Sunny, hers came in the relatively unsubtle form of her mother grabbing her by the figurative “scruff of her neck” and taking her to the West Coast University Texas campus.

She may not have known it at the time, but that day proved to be the spark that would launch a very productive and mutually beneficial relationship with West Coast University – a relationships that resulted in Sunny graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 2017 and returning to become a faculty member in 2021.

Sunny’s life took a significant turn that day, but her story actually began about three years earlier, in 2012…

Post-Graduate Plans Take a Detour

Sunny had just earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Mt. St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles, and she was accepted into medical school. However, she’d observed physicians oftentimes being burned out and spending less time with patients than the nurses, and this concerned her, so she decided to put medical school on hold and take a “gap year” to figure things out.

Sunny moved to Texas with her family and began applying to physician’s assistant programs, but she was having little luck. Before she knew it, her gap year turned into gap years, and she had yet to take the next step in her life following her 2012 graduation.

By her own admission, “my mom wanted me off the couch,” and so on a Thursday in 2015, Sunny’s mom took her to the WCU-Texas campus. Alyza was skeptical. She didn’t want to go to nursing school and become a nurse like her mom, and so when she arrived on campus, she poked and prodded and looked for reasons not to go. Ultimately, all she found were reasons to go.

The Decision to Enroll in the WCU-Texas BSN Program

“I was very hesitant, but I visited classrooms, and I saw the classroom size. They were small so I didn’t feel like a number. I felt like they cared,” Sunny said. “In medicine, you can’t teach someone to care if they don’t care themselves, and I felt like they cared and that was a big thing for me. And then they showed me the simulation lab, and I was blown away.”

So, Sunny’s mom asked, “Okay, what’s next?” They were told the next term was starting on Monday, and there was a seat available. Sunny enrolled and was in class that Monday as a brand-new nursing student.

“West Coast changed my life in a matter of days,” she said.

Sunny finished her BSN in less than two years because she was able to transfer in many of her classes from Mt. St. Mary’s and jump right into the core nursing program. She then proceeded to get her nurse practitioner’s degree from Houston Baptist in 2020, and the next step was to begin working at a hospital/healthcare facility. At the time, teaching wasn’t anywhere in her thinking process.

But right around the time of her graduation from Houston Baptist, Sunny also wanted to start a family, and with COVID-19 in its early days, she didn’t want to be around patients. So, she reached out to the WCU Alumni Association and scratched an itch that she’d had since she was very little.

Teaching Has Been “an Absolute Dream”

“I always wanted to be an English teacher,” Sunny said. But her educational path went in a different direction, and so teaching was never a serious consideration. Until now. A year later, in the summer of 2021, Sunny was in front of a classroom full of students at WCU’s brand-new campus in Richardson, Texas, teaching N100, Fundamentals of Nursing.

And it’s been a moving experience for her, so much more than a “job.”

“After having my daughter, I realized that these nurses that I’m teaching, if something happened to her and she had to go to the hospital, they could be taking care of her,” Sunny said. “And if I went into the hospital and saw one of my former students, I’d immediately be at ease.

“What an amazing thing it is to be shaping these nurses who may be taking care of my family someday. I love it. It’s been an absolute dream.”

Alyza Sunny, WCU BSN graduate and faculty member

“What an amazing thing it is to be shaping these nurses who may be taking care of my family someday,” she said. “I love it. It’s been an absolute dream.”

Amazing indeed.

Sunny’s class covers a little bit of everything students will see and experience, from IV fluids and nutrition to medication administration to infection control and oxygenation, and so much more. And her teaching style aligns with her enthusiastic and engaging personality – lots of interactive learning activities like how to “take off the germs” by removing your equipment in an orchestrated manner that goes, in order, gloves first, then eyewear, then robe, and then finally mask.

“I enjoy having a very active classroom,” Sunny said. “They are not just listening to me lecture for five hours – we act things out. They can learn a lot from me, but they can also learn so much from their peers, and that peer learning also helps to create long-lasting relationships.”

Just like the one Alyza formed with West Coast University.

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.