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A Family Accident Inspires QCC/PTK Alumna to a Career in Nursing

September 2020
  • Nursing alumna Kelly Ashe-Dailida and her chidlren from left: Ryan, Erin and Alex.
    Nursing alumna Kelly Ashe-Dailida and her chidlren from left: Ryan, Erin and Alex.

Quinsigamond Community College students and alumni play a vital role in keeping our communities safe and our economy intact as guardian workers on the frontlines during the pandemic. Recently we spoke with a former QCC adjunct instructor and alumna, who is one of today's guardian workers.

As an adjunct psychology instructor at Quinsigamond Community College for the past 15-plus years, Kelly Ashe-Dailida had become a familiar face to many. Yet, some may remember her more as a nursing student in QCC’s nurse education program than as a former QCC instructor. Today, Ms. Ashe-Dailida is an inpatient addiction/recovery nurse, living in Shrewsbury with her husband Kevin, and three children, Alex 20, Ryan 17, and Erin 14, as well as her 10-month-old golden retriever Mason.

She holds an undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology from Anna Maria College; however, throughout the years she felt she was missing the clinical aspect to her higher education. Ms. Ashe-Dailida toyed with the idea of going back to school to get her doctorate degree in clinical psychology, or perhaps go into something else entirely, such as nursing.

Her “aha” moment came when her middle son, Ryan, sustained a knee injury that required surgery. When he was hospitalized, she realized that while she had a great deal of knowledge she didn’t have all the knowledge she needed to be part of his care.

“I was so envious of the nurses. They had the required clinical knowledge to take care of Ryan and I didn’t. I wanted their knowledge to take care of my child,” she said.

Thankfully, her son recovered from his injury and Ms. Ashe-Dailida’s commitment to enter nursing school was solidified.

“When we got home the experience was still poking at me and I finally turned to my husband and said, ‘I made the decision, I want to go to school,’” she said.

She entered QCC’s nurse education program and in December 2019 graduated from the program as a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member.  

Once Ms. Ashe-Dailida graduated from QCC, she was required to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. She ended up taking the exam just before the pandemic hit, and was actually in the last test-taking group before everything shut down due to COVID-19. She passed the Boards on her first attempt and then began the arduous task of looking for a job during a pandemic.

“It was interesting to find a job at this time as a new nurse, as hospitals were trying to wrap their arms around this virus,” she said, adding that she got her first nursing job as an inpatient addiction/recovery nurse.

Although this was Ms. Ashe-Dailida’s first official nursing position, she has also performed some COVID testing in the middle of the pandemic, following all proper personal protection equipment (PPE) protocols.

“I feel I am doing all I can to remain safe and help others. With my current job and the COVID testing, you have to assume that everyone is positive in order to protect yourself and others. Among the many other communicable viruses and diseases, you must concern yourself with, COVID is even more insidious and mysterious to us right now,” she said. “While COVID is always on my mind, clients I deal with are not there for that, they are dealing with an equally formidable depravity and our number one job is to help them recover and keep them safe.”

Caring for others in this way seems to be in Ms. Ashe-Dailida’s DNA.

“My husband said this job takes a special kind of person or personality and said he could never do it,” she laughed.

She encourages others to dig deep and follow their dreams of being a nurse, even when nursing school gets hard and feels overwhelming.

“I hope I can inspire a few people who feel they lack confidence or stamina in believing that they can do it. The nursing program at QCC is one of the best around; it is also the most challenging, yet rewarding academic accomplishments I have ever experienced. I still keep in touch with my professors and they prepared me well. My family and my professors were always in my corner, offering encouragement, advice and honesty,” she said, adding, “PTK was surely a big part of urging me on and reminding me of what I had accomplished and the importance of maintaining a robust attitude in the face of adversity. “

Ms. Ashe-Dailida’s said one of the most surprising things about going to nursing school was that it was not only life changing for her, but also for her family.

“This was my dream, but if I didn’t have the support of my family I wouldn’t have made it. My daughter, who was only 8 when I began school, would leave me notes of inspiration in my lunch or in my notebook,” she said, adding, “All that my children learned while I was going to school was something I never expected. They saw me studying as hard as I did and it reinforced what Kevin and I taught them. I knew I wanted to go to school, but I never knew the positive effect it would have on my family.  ”

To learn more, visit QCC’s Nursing program.