Breaking Down Barriers While Learning a New City and Profession

L.A. transplant Coco Ndipagbor, with help from an LGBTQIA scholarship, led her class in nursing school
School of Nursing and Health Studies graduate Coco Ndipagbor

Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Coco Ndipagbor '21
Academic program: Pre-licensure BSN, School of Nursing and Health Studies
Hometown: Long Beach, California  

Coco Ndipagbor describes herself as fearless and resilient, and it’s easy to see why. After earning a bachelor’s degree in global health from the University of Southern California, she could have stayed close to home and pursued a master’s in public health. Instead, she moved to a new city halfway across the country and distinguished herself as a leader in her class at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, becoming president of the Student Nursing Association chapter at UMKC.

She will return to the Los Angeles area in the fall, where a fulltime job as an intensive care nurse waits for her. To help finance nursing school, Ndipagbor applied for every scholarship UMKC had to offer. She landed a few, but one was especially meaningful: the LGBTQIA Leadership Scholarship.

Nursing Alumnus Coco Ndipagbor stands in her graduation gown in front of one of the Assyrian Sphinxes at the Liberty Memorial

What did you get from being an LGBTQIA Scholar?

The scholarship provided a chance to exemplify queer leadership. It was the first time that being Out and Proud funded part of my education. I also wanted to show queer UMKC students of color that they belong here. I joined the LGBTQIA Health District Alliance because I do believe that showing my pride will validate my patients and peers that I am here for them.

LGBTQIA issues are important because I love who I am and the community I represent, and I aim to create a space where we can feel safe. My little brother is a trans child, and I have had to step up big time to ensure his safety in a world that shows him otherwise. I want to uplift and empower queer youth because many of us grew up in families where the blasphemy of our existence prevented us from receiving the love and support we deserved.

The LGBTQIA community is underrepresented in the world of health care, and I want to be a part of a generation of providers that changes that. I intend to use my experience here in Kansas City to grow and thrive. 

Coco Ndipagbor stands smiling in front of a colorful mural
Why did you choose nursing?

I have been caring for people my whole life, and being able to do that as my profession brings me joy. I also love teaching people how to advocate for their health.

I wanted to diversify my education and my choices, too, and there are so many paths to pursue in nursing. I’m interested in anesthesia, and I knew UMKC had a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist program, which could bring me back here in a few years.

"The LGBTQIA community is underrepresented in the world of health care, and I want to be a part of a generation of providers that changes that." — Coco Ndipagbor

What did you learn about yourself at UMKC?

I have learned that I am fearless. I moved across the country to a place that I had never visited or known. I took the bus every day in the rain, cold or snow, and I worked 50 hours a week and still came up short financially. But I did not stop. I could not quit after coming so far, and I would do it all over again.

What do you admire most about UMKC?

I admire the dedication that many professors and administrators have for students. Once they found out that I was in KC alone, they opened their hearts and became my support system. It kept me going. 

Coco Ndipagbor stands in front of a mural with a fist held in the air

What is the best advice you received from a professor?

There is always something more to learn. Study to become a better nurse, not to pass a test. Always go with your gut, even if it goes against the grain.

Anything you will miss about Kansas City and UMKC?

I will miss the low cost of living, the clean streets and the nice Kansas Citians I encounter every day. I will miss the friends and family I made while at UMKC.

 

 


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