Her job: Owner, Cooper Financial
Family: Husband, Nakia; three children, Tajari, 11; Nakithon, 10; Zaia, 8
Education: Bachelor's degree in psychology from Chaminade University; graduate degree in human resources from Central Michigan University; doctorate in business administration from University of Phoenix
Community/professional involvement: Secretary, Order of the Eastern Star; board member, Family Shelter and Keep the Midlands Beautiful; member, Columbia Opportunity Resource, Women in Financial Services, Forest Lake Elementary PTO and Columbia's Young Professionals; Leadership Columbia
Her story: The Los Angeles native served eight years in the Army working in personnel, including an assignment to Fort Jackson. After leaving the service, she stayed in Columbia and began an insurance and financial services career with Northwestern Mutual. Later at New York Life, she rose to management associate and won several awards. She opened her own insurance and financial services practice last year. Cooper plans to publish her first book this year, "Journey from Survivor to Overcomer."
What saying does she live by? "L.O.V.E. everything you do - L-Learn. O-Observe. V-Visualize. E-Evolve."
Her life changed when ... "I was working with a new agent that I recruited. We went on a joint appointment. My goal was to show the agent a few pointers on products and presentations as a general rule. ... Afterward, the agent told me that he felt meeting me was 'God Sent' and related that he was better off having known me. I then realized that I have a unique opportunity to change the lives of others by not selling, marketing, or presenting, but being myself, which is the best award I have ever received."
How did she recover after failing at something? "As a foster child with an unstable home life, I relocated fairly often including several changes to new schools. I failed to complete high school. As soon as I got a grasp on my situation, I immediately began GED courses. By completing this certification, it gave me an opportunity to join the Army, which gave me a stepping stone into life."
How do you become successful in business - no matter your background? "Work your plan while not letting the plan work you. The first step was to get a genuine idea on what it is that I wanted. Since the age of 8, I wanted to be 'Dr. Love.' I began by journaling and documenting everything I wanted in addition to the steps needed to get there. By seeing the path, it enabled me to take baby steps to get to the next level. Once I had a grasp on what was needed to accomplish a goal, I was able to carefully research the steps in detail, as well as programs, systems, companies, that were available to assist."