Cooper, 21, was walking home along E. 4th St. at 2:20 a.m. Sunday when the attacker "grabbed me and tried to bring me behind [a] truck," she said.
"He tried to slit my throat," Cooper said.
"I kept dodging him and fighting him off."
Police identified the attacker as 23-year-old Jacob Hollingsworth, who is an active-duty airman based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, which is near Goldsboro. Hollingsworth used a pocked knife during the attack, police said.
Investigators said evidence shows that the suspect and victim do not know each other.
Cooper was walking home alone.
"[I asked him], 'Why are you doing this to me, why are you trying to kill me?'" Cooper said.
"He said, 'I don't know, I don't know,'" Cooper told NewsChannel 12.
The ECU junior continued to fight for her life.
"I wasn't going to be a victim," she said.
Four of Cooper's friends approached the area and, seeing her struggle, fought Hollingsworth, she said.
The airman, originally from Westminster, S.C., was injured during that fight and was hospitalized at Vidant Medical Center. He was released Monday and arrested.
Cooper was treated and released from the hospital.
Jenny Crosson lives across the street from where the attack happened.
"It's just kinda scary because we're out here all the time just hanging out on our porch, playing with the dog and anytime at night something like that could happen. And it's scary that we have to worry about that," she said.
Hollingsworth is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury.
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base released a statement Monday afternoon regarding the incident.
"We set high standards for our people and will not tolerate airmen who fall short of those standards ...We send our sympathies to the victim and will provide whatever support we can to her and her family."
Cooper said she plans to return to school on Wednesday. Until then, she will continue recovering from what happened to her.