Teylor Cohen sitting on a park bench.
“I have a passion for helping people, and I see the nursing field as a great way to do so,” says Teylor Cohen. Steve Zylius / UCI

Teylor Cohen enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on his 18th birthday, just months before he began taking classes at UCI in the summer of 2013. A biology major and first-generation college student, he took a hiatus from his studies to serve his country.

“Since I was a young boy, I had always dreamed about becoming a United States Marine,” Cohen says. “I knew I was going to join the Marine Corps, and nobody was going to change my mind.”

He was in the Marine Corps for five years, completing three deployments overseas as an infantry squad leader. Hist first deployment took Cohen to Spain, Serbia and Ghana, followed by a second deployment in Okinawa and on ship on the South China Sea. His final deployment brought him back to Okinawa and the South China Sea, as well as Singapore. Cohen returned to UCI in the winter of 2019 and changed his major to nursing science the following year. He will graduate with a B.S. in the spring.

“I was always interested in something that had to do with healthcare,” says Cohen, who was a hospice volunteer during high school in his hometown of Fountain Valley, and, more recently, a senior caregiver. “I have a passion for helping people, and I see the nursing field as a great way to do so.”

Cohen is one of the nearly 100 student veterans at UCI. The university’s Veteran Services Center, a division of Student Affairs, assists them in transitioning to college, helps manage their GI Bill benefits, and celebrates veteran culture through events on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

This quarter, Cohen and his fellow nursing students are in clinical rotations for pediatrics, at CHOC Children’s Hospital, and labor and delivery, at UCI Medical Center.

Cohen received the Suzanne Leider Nursing Endowed Student Award in fall 2020, given annually to exemplary undergraduates in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing.

“This award has alleviated some of the financial stress that we have encountered and has allowed me to focus more of my time on my family and on my school work.” he says. “I cannot express how blessed I feel to have received this award and I am forever thankful for your generosity.”

This fall, Cohen is also the recipient of a Elizabeth C Tierney Nursing Scholarship and the Nursing Leadership Award, which is awarded to UCI nursing students based on leadership, awards, honors, academic performance, and financial need.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Cohen is a foster father to two of his fiancé’s young cousins. “Supporting a family and being in nursing school full time is stressful,” he says. “People don’t realize how demanding it is to be a foster parent.”

In the future, Cohen hopes to become an emergency department or intensive care unit nurse.

“The foundations I have built here at UCI will help me accomplish this,” he says. “I believe that working in the medical field is extremely meaningful and that it will benefit everyone and help make this world a better place.”

If you want to learn more about supporting students at UCI, please visit the Brilliant Future website. Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/sue-and-bill-gross-school-of-nursing.