Alumni Profiles


Aoife O'Brien '05

Certified Nurse Midwife, Mid Coast Hospital, Brunswick, ME

Home country/state: Ireland and Maine Aoife O'Brien
Graduate program: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Entry to Practice Accelerate Program, Columbia University School of Nursing
Senior project:
Opening the Spiral: A Study of Mam Midwives in Guatemala
Internship: Island Community Midwives, Bar Harbor, ME

As a COA student, Aoife had planned to become a home birth midwife, but eventually she decided to become a certified nurse midwife. After graduating from COA, she Aoife waitressed, bartended, and pursued science oriented classes in preparation for going to graduate school. She attended an accelerated Nurse-Midwifery program at Columbia University, NY , did her integration at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and spent a year-long fellowship at The Midwife Center for Birth and Women's Health in Pittsburgh, PA. Aoife currently practices midwifery in Brunswick, ME and attends both hospital and home births. She writes, "It is my intention to do international work in under-served communities as often as possible. To date [1/2014] I have attended nearly 200 births with my first ones ever happening during my time at COA!"

Why did you choose to attend COA, and what kept you here?
My best friend was attending. I fell in love with the place, and the people, through many visits. I stayed at COA because of the freedom allowed through the academic structure. I could study what I wanted, how I wanted, with a lot of support from fantastic faculty and staff offering inspiration and extensive resources.

What was the most valuable skill you gained while at COA, and how does it influence your career today?
COA taught me to have vision and not to compromise my values in pursuit of my goals. Even if not contemporary, any goal is achievable. This affects my career today because I have achieved the dream I began actively pursuing during my time at COA. I am not afraid to be persistent, yet humble. I want to share my knowledge and be a lifelong learner.

What was your favorite class at COA? Why?
COA simply is my favorite classroom. I don't think I can narrow it down more than that.

Please describe one of your most meaningful experiences at COA.
I came to visit my best friend at the school before I was a student. There just happened to be two Mayan midwives visiting from Guatemala, and I saw them speak. I was breathless, awestruck. I later lived with those two women and twelve other Mayan midwives in Guatemala where I caught babies for the first time. They told me I was a midwife, and now I am.

Why is a COA education still relevant—both in your own career and for current students?
In retrospect COA created a core philosophy I live my life by. To be conscious in your endeavors, career and otherwise, is relevant in every encounter in life. The impact cannot be underestimated or briefly encapsulated.

Is there anything else you want to make sure others know about COA?
COA is a fantastic community and it continues to be such long after you graduate. I still have so many friends from my time there, and there is an instant connection when you meet other alums. Every time I set foot on campus it feels like coming home.