Double Alumna Finds Family in WCU Cohort

WCU-Ontario alumna Sally V. in her cap and gown.

Sally V. has never worked in a hospital setting. Instead, for the past seven years, she worked at a community clinic, calling public health her “true calling.”

“My passion is community health,” Sally said. “I love establishing relationships with patients and their families.”

Sally might be the first medical professional in her family, but she said she wanted to be a nurse from the time she was young. She was drawn to the expansive nature of nursing, which was also a major draw for her to come to West Coast University. She chose WCU after discovering its cohort-styled learning.

“I chose West Coast University because everyone was geared towards the same goal. I loved that it was a family. It’s the same group of people you stick with the whole journey. You develop bonds and help each other go through it.”

Sally V.

Sally graduated from WCU-Ontario with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014. Now, she encourages others, telling them that they can pursue a nursing degree no matter what obstacles stand in their way.

“I didn’t know anyone in healthcare. I was a single mom also working almost full-time, over 30 hours a week,” Sally said. “If you want it and you’re motivated and believe in yourself… you’ll make it happen.”

Sally leaned on her mother, who she said supported and cheered her on. At the same time, she balanced life as a single mom to her son, Anthony. She recalled that the flexible class schedules meant she was not on campus every day of the week. She also found her professors were experiencing similar responsibilities.

“You did get to develop a relationship with your professor, who was also a nurse and most of the time also a parent,” she said. “They were always available to provide more assistance.”

After completing an online Master of Public Health program in 2018, Sally began her Master of Science in Nursing program at West Coast University.

“I submitted my final project on Sunday, and I started the Master of Science in Nursing program on Monday,” she said. “It just happened the terms lined up like that. Everyone was like, ‘You’re crazy,’ but once I get my mind set on something, I go for it.”

Sally was inspired to continue in her education after working alongside a practicing physician at the community care clinic. She said the experience made her realize that she wanted to provide that level of care to her own patients.

“I wanted to be the provider where the patients say, ‘Sally takes care of me and wants me to be healthy and is always there when I have questions,’” she said. “In community health, there are so many barriers: homelessness, poverty, drug use, lack of transportation. I decided I wanted to be a provider, so I enrolled and just finished the Family Nurse Practitioner program in May of 2021.”

Sally said her cohort was there for each other, whether through Zoom study sessions, quizzing one another, or sharing flashcards. After finishing the program and passing their boards, Sally remembered how everyone celebrated getting through that challenging final year together.

“I felt so proud of these people I have only seen once,” she said. “Even though we’re hundreds, if not thousands, of miles apart, it was important to make it through together, to get to this point as a cohort, not just as individuals.”

The close, family-oriented cohort is a major reason why Sally advocates for others to consider attending West Coast University.

“I’ve heard from other people that their nursing experience wasn’t as good. They didn’t develop those relationships like I did,” Sally said. “Not every school is the perfect fit for everyone, but this is why I chose West Coast and why I support and advocate for it.”

Now, Sally helps to foster that same bond with her own students. She became a nursing instructor at American Career College in January 2022.

As the president of the Ontario Alumni Chapter, Sally remains highly involved in her alma mater. Her best advice to anyone interested in nursing is to start today.

“Life never stops. It is always full of surprises,” she said. “You can’t wait. When people finally do the program they say, ‘I should have done this earlier and shouldn’t have made so many excuses for myself.’”

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.