uc irvine school of nursing student teylor cohen with his fiancee

Teylor Cohen and his fiancée, Julie Recalde, who he says has been instrumental to his success.

From a young age, nursing student Teylor Cohen knew what he wanted to do: Join the military.

His parents, however, wanted him to go to college first. They wouldn’t sign for him to enlist themselves. 

“They supported me, but they said that’s a grown man’s decision and that once I turned 18, I could make the decision myself. I ended up enlisting on my 18th birthday,” the Fountain Valley native remembers.

Cohen finally realized his childhood dream in 2013 and enlisted in the Marines as an infantryman. 

However, he signed up too late in the fiscal year and wouldn’t be able to leave for boot camp until the next January.

Wanting to stay busy, he enrolled at UCI as a biology major for the summer and fall sessions. “I figured I could get a head start and a little experience.”

His counselor was aware of his plans to enlist and promised that his place at UCI would be held. 

“I have a feeling she was thinking, ‘I’m never going to see this kid again,’” he laughs.

After five years and three deployments overseas though, he found she had been true to her word. When Cohen left the military, it just happened to coincide with the winter quarter — right where he left off.

Shifting to nursing school

While serving, he had a change of heart about biology. “I thought ‘When I get out, I want to do something fulfilling. I want to continue to do meaningful work.’”

He changed majors and was accepted into the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing.

On weekends, Cohen worked as a caretaker. He was eventually paired with a veteran who previous caretakers had found difficult.

“I hit it off with him. He just liked things orderly and in a particular way,” he remembers. The man passed away just before the state shutdown. “He was like a grandpa to me.”

Busy as new foster parents

While he continues his rigorous studies, Cohen and his fiancée, Julie Recalde, are foster parents to her two young cousins. 

“Being a new parent has been a challenge because we got them just as the summer quarter was starting,” he says. “But it was the right thing to do.” 

Their hands are full, so they agreed that Cohen will finish nursing school first and his fiancée will get her teaching credential after that. 

Although he’s had only one clinical rotation so far, he feels fairly certain that he wants to work either in the emergency room or intensive care unit

“I feel like it would be more exciting. It’s higher acuity care, it keeps things interesting and fast -paced.”

Financial support enables focus

Because of his compassion, perseverance and unique story, Cohen has been honored with the Suzanne Renée Leider Nursing Student Award, a gift of $2,000. He is also the recipient of the Elizabeth C. Tierney Nursing Scholarship ($2,000) and the Ellen Lewis Nursing Leadership Award ($1,000). 

He is extremely grateful for the honors, along with the GI bill, which pays a monthly stipend as long as he’s in school. They have enabled him to put his attention where it’s needed most.

“I’m grateful. It really allows me to focus on my family and nursing school.”