Patty Shillington

Serena Sarage

AMHERST, Mass. – Serena Sarage, a native of South Hadley, has realized her two-pronged dream of moving to Colorado and joining the heroic efforts of the nursing workforce during a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Similarly, Melissa Petersen, who grew up in Maine, has been hired as a newly graduated nurse into a residency program to care for seriously ill cardiac patients at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Their quick entry into the nursing field at a time when nurses are desperately needed was made possible by a University of Massachusetts Amherst request to move up their formal graduation date one month, to Jan. 1, so they could qualify to schedule the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to apply for licensure as a registered nurse. UMass Amherst’s request to accommodate nursing graduates moving out of state was approved by Marty Meehan, president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system.