She Was Looking for a Fresh Start


When Elom Kouko left her native country, the Togolese Republic in West Africa, to live near family in central Ohio, she was looking forward to a fresh start.

She had spent years working in information technology, obtaining undergraduate and master’s degrees in the field from IAEC University in Togo. But upon her arrival in America four years ago, Kouko, now 31, was ready for a change. After a period working as a caregiver for people with developmental disabilities, Kouko fell in love with healthcare. That passion led her to pursue a career in nursing at COTC.

Black woman sitting on bench with bronze statue of Harriet Tubman “I decided to go to school to become a nurse so I can be more helpful to my patients and their families,” she said. Kouko’s dedication to caring for others and her commitment to the college’s nursing program have made her the recipient of COTC’s new Diversity Scholarship, which is awarded annually to students with demonstrated financial need who have experience living or working in diverse environments and are pursuing a degree in healthcare technology or law enforcement technology programs.

The new scholarship was funded by Nancy and James Bradley with a $25,000 commitment and an additional $25,000 match of any community donations – in memory of their dear friend Eleanor Jackson, an African American small business owner who touched the lives of many in the community through her vibrant personality and successful catering business.

When Kouko learned she was the recipient, she was filled with thankfulness because of the opportunities it will provide. “I was so happy. I was so happy to receive that,” she said.

While she juggles coursework and field experience at Mount Carmel hospital, where she hopes to work full time someday, the scholarship will give Kouko extra flexibility to concentrate on her career goals. “This scholarship will help me to really focus on my education,” she added.

Kouko, of Westerville, is working toward her associate degree in nursing. Currently in her third semester of the five-semester program, she intends to graduate in June 2022 and would like to continue toward her Bachelor of Science — and after that, her Master of Science — in Nursing.

Kouko’s COTC experience has been full of positives, and she is optimistic about her future in a career where she can give back to her community. “I have so many good teachers, and I like the environment and the spirit of COTC,” she said.

Donate to the COTC Diversity Scholarship at

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC has four campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.