Charlene "Renae" Cooper (left) and her daughter, Alexandria Page Cooper, are Class of 2020 Bluefield State College Nursing graduates.
“I was extremely nervous. I was entering something completely new and I worried how well I would adjust to the change.” That’s Alexandria Paige Cooper. She goes by “Paige.” A.S., Nursing. Class of 2020.
“I was really nervous about returning to college.” That’s Charlene “Renae” Cooper. Paige’s mom. B.S., Nursing. Class of 2020.
Bluefield State has been alma mater to generations of families over the years. Included in the Class of 2020 are a mother and daughter graduating together.
Amazingly, they’re not the first. But it has been quite a few years since family members shared a graduation.
Paige is a 2017 graduate of River View High School in Paynesville (McDowell County). Nursing runs in the family. Besides her mother, Aunt Selena Blevins is also a nurse and Bluefield State graduate (A.S., Nursing. Class of 2000).
“I always knew I wanted to go into health care. Two of my biggest influences were my mom and aunt. I knew I wanted to be just like them one day.”
Renae was also born and raised in McDowell County. Married for 24 years, she works as a school nurse for the McDowell County Board of Education at Sandy River Middle School and Iaeger Elementary School.
“I’ve wanted to bridge over from LPN to RN for a long time. I’ve been out of school for 17 years. There was always a reason for not starting back. Then, as I watched my daughter follow her dreams, I wanted to chase mine with her.”
Paige spent the first year studying on her own. Then Renae joined her for the one-year program that moves Licensed Practical Nurses up to Registered Nursing.
“Mom was an awesome study partner. She had so much knowledge. I was better on computers and online stuff, so I helped her figure out things on that end.”
Renae added, “We did study together. Everyone learns differently. We learned to break the content down to help each other. We made some amazing memories studying together.”
Paige commented on the program and her teachers.
“The BSC nursing program has been wonderful. The faculty are all amazing! They want us to succeed and become great nurses. We’ve made lifelong friends and I’ve had some great clinical experiences that have prepared me for work.”
Renae echoed her daughter’s observations.
“The program is very rigorous. As you go through, you become family with your instructors and peers. The instructors push us to be the best we can be. Nursing school is very emotional. We cry and laugh together. We rejoice together. You definitely come out a stronger person.”
Mother and daughter also commented on healthcare in today’s environment.
Renae said, “The coronavirus took everyone by surprise. This pandemic definitely show how essential healthcare workers are. There is a shortage in nursing. Hopefully, people will look at the pandemic and be encouraged to step up. You’re never too old to go back to school.”
Paige agreed, “Nursing is a front line job! They go into work risking their lives every day to take care of those in need. Nurses are prepared to handle any situation, because things are changing constantly and anything can happen. This is extremely important in a time like today.”
The Coopers summed up their Bluefield State year.
Renae: “It’s amazing to experience this together. We’ve been each other’s strength. It’s been incredible to watch my daughter succeed.”
Paige: “Going through this with my mom has been so special. It wasn’t always easy, but it was so worth it. This is an experience I will cherish forever.”