Alexa PetkewichFrom the moment Alexa Petkewich ’22 attended the Summer Scholars Program at Regis, a program for rising high school juniors and seniors to take college-level courses, she knew it was the place she would someday call home. A place that would challenge her, provide her the tools to become a great nurse, and offer a community that would support her throughout her journey.

“At Summer Scholars I had the opportunity to take two courses from amazing professors and utilize just a few of Regis’ resources—tutoring services and the writing center,” says Alexa. “I was drawn to the close-knit community and knew the campus size and population was perfect for me to make my mark.”

Alexa was committed to making this dream become a reality. She graduated from a vocational-technical high school in Wakefield, MA where she not only earned her high school diploma but also her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license. After being accepted to several nursing schools, it was an easy choice for Alexa to select Regis. “Not only is it one of the most reputable nursing programs in the state, but I was also fortunate enough to receive the S. Thérèse Higgins, CSJ, Scholarship, which lessens my financial burden and allows me to focus on my studies,” she explains.

Alexa immediately threw herself into everything Regis had to offer, becoming involved with many clubs and organizations including the Pride Guide, Pride of Christ Club, American Sign Language Club, Best Buddies, Bethany Hill Place, Student Nursing Association, and several service trips with the Center for Ministry and Service—just to name a few. “The Regis community has contributed to my evolution as a student by giving me a voice to be heard, whether it’s through leading a service trip, joining a group, or taking part in a job on campus,” explains Alexa. “The Regis community has challenged me to think more about people than just myself and has shaped me to more appreciative of others.”

Alexa admits that her extracurriculars—on top of the required classes for her nursing major and neuroscience minor—are demanding, but she is thankful for her professors and classmates who have been her support system along the way. “All of the professors—whether it be in lecture or lab—are kind, considerate, and thoughtful educators who care about their students and genuinely want to see them succeed,” she says. With the help of Associate Nursing Professor Donna Glynn and Assistant Nursing Professor Susan Carroccino, Alexa secured a position as a patient care associate at Mass General Brigham and began working in May 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My first day was a 12-hour shift on a COVID-19 floor. I was overwhelmed by everything and everyone,” she remembers. “The nurses were beyond generous—helping me calm my nerves and offering me reassurance.”

Alexa witnessed that the virus does not discriminate and can contaminate anyone, regardless of age or health. “I was shocked to see a 23-year-old in one room and an 83-year-old in the next,” she says. “I often felt useless knowing that all I could do was make them comfortable and ease their pain.” The camaraderie that Alexa witnessed by all her coworkers helped keep her motivated, as they helped each other through the difficult days but also celebrated their victories.

“My favorite part about working on the COVID-19 floors was when we heard ‘Operation Hope’ over the PA system,” Alexa says. “All available staff would report to the designated area to cheer on patients who had recovered from COVID-19 as they left the hospital. I was overjoyed to have played a small part in them returning home safely.”

Alexa never imagined being placed into the middle of a global pandemic but is forever grateful to everyone at Mass General Brigham for the hands-on training she received. “I do not know what I would have done without the kindness, compassion, and guidance of my coworkers,” she says. “They have given me the confidence and encouragement needed to spark my true potential.”