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Nicolas Coe – Alumnus Spotlight

Nursing School Student

BA in Biological Science, minor in African American Studies (2012)


When and why did you decide to major in biology?
I decided junior year of high school that I would major in biology.  My AP biology teacher had a poster saying “What can you do with a biology degree?” and I knew with so many options that the majority of the jobs on the list interested me. [See poster below]

What were some significant accomplishments/favorite memories at UM?
I transferred to UM from a small college (Randolph Macon College) after playing football there.  Some of my favorite memories were the amount of school pride and there was not a lot of pressure. I made some lifelong friends and even not playing sports it felt like a great school to attend.

Please tell us about your educational/career path since UM.
After I graduated I moved closer to my family because my grandmother was sick. I was unsure about a career path so after that summer I joined the Army National Guard. After I completed the training I used my degree to get a job as a high school science teacher.  I taught high school, coached football and on weekends I conducted my military training.

After fulfilling my military contract I took a job to become an inspector for the federal government in North Dakota. Working for Homeland Security as an inspector I had to use a lot of science to inspect the contents of shipments. I had to understand everything from different types of animals coming into the country to potential drugs being smuggled.

After 2 years I did a transfer and I worked as a Fish Biologist (Ichthyologist) for the lower Colorado River.  I lived in Las Vegas but traveled 4-5 days a week everywhere from the Grand Canyon to Mexico.  I was in attendance at the October 1st Las Vegas shooting and that triggered me to leave my job and rejoin the Army active duty. I did not have many options when I rejoined and ended up becoming an IT Specialist.  After completing that training I became a true believer in STEM education because it sets people up for success in life.  During my time in the Army I have completed multiple schools, gained IT certs, completed an MBA, and multiple awards for my combat deployment.  I am in the process of getting out of the Army currently and was recently accepted into Nursing School.  I have service-connected disabilities so the Army will pay for Nursing school and I will use my GI bill to become a Nurse Practitioner.

I truly believe my biology education allowed me to do so many careers and truly enjoy all of them.  Even as I move forward, I am thankful for my education because it allows me to go into the healthcare field almost 10 years after graduation.

Why should they decide to study biology at UM?
Studying biology opens doors for more careers than most, if not all, degrees will allow.  I have 2 younger siblings who studied biology in college and it set them up for success as well.  My brother is a physician and my sister is a physical therapist, and we all agree that biology is one of the best routes to take. You can not go wrong with any STEM education, but a biology degree allows you to have a lot more options for the future. 

biology poster of different career paths with biology