Search form

You are here

Sisters Commit to Caring For Others

June 2021
  • Nursing graduate Cassara Casey is all smiles at her pinning ceremony.
    Nursing graduate Cassara Casey is all smiles at her pinning ceremony.
  • Nursing graduate Kirstianna Ferschke receives her nursing pin.
    Nursing graduate Kirstianna Ferschke recevies her nursing pin.
  • QCC Nursing graduates and sisters Kirstianna Ferschke (L) and Cassara Casey.
    QCC Nursing graduates and sisters Kirstianna Ferschke (L) and Cassara Casey.

The special bond that sisters have for each other is considered one of the strongest of all bonds. This comes as no surprise to 2021 Nurse Education graduates and sisters Cassara Casey and Kirstianna Ferschke. The two became a part of a tight knit group of over 50 students who grew together and helped each other out in a time when the healthcare industry was challenged with a global pandemic.

“We became a family. There was a real family dynamic and there was always someone there to help you out,” Ms. Ferschke said.

As two of six siblings who grew up in Southbridge and attended Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School, family is certainly familiar to Ms. Casey and Ms. Ferschke, as is Quinsigamond Community College. As the oldest of her siblings, Ms. Casey was the first to head to college in 2008, choosing QCC for its affordability and accessibility. Her sister Kaitlynn followed suit, graduating in May 2016 with her associate degree in Early Childhood Education. 

Currently Kaitlynn is working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in education at Bay Path University. Second to the youngest, Calissa, will also be starting QCC in Fall 2021 as an Early Childhood Education Major. Her mom is even a part of the QCC legacy, taking some classes in accounting for the past five years.

While Ms. Casey’s focus was in culinary arts when she was in high school, children were also an important part of her life.

After beginning QCC, she began the search for a career that would resonate with her, eventually landing on nursing. She took her prerequisites for QCC’s Nurse Education program, applied and waited for a spot to open up in the popular program.

Meanwhile her sister was also on track to enter QCC’s nursing program. Unlike Ms. Casey, Ms. Ferschke focused on nursing at Bay Path. In 2015, she graduated as both a CNA Home Health Aide and an EKG Technician. She worked for a few years before entering QCC; taking her nursing prerequisites and waiting to be admitted into the College’s Nurse Education program. When Ms. Ferschke received word that she had been admitted into the Fall 2019 program, she was elated to learn that her sister was also admitted and they would be in the same class.

“We both applied to the program and then got accepted but we had no idea that we were both on the waiting list at the time,” Ms. Ferschke said.

The sisters often carpooled when they could, even though Ms. Casey lived in Connecticut and Ms. Ferschke was in Southbridge. Ms. Casey had clinical rotations at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Leominster Hospital.

“I also worked at Harrington Hospital in student nurse positions,” she said.

Ms. Ferschke did her clinicals at Auburn Life Care, Harrington Hospital, and a make-up clinical at the YMCA COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in Worcester during the Spring 2021 semester. 

She even had a clinical rotation at St Vincent’s Hospital during the same time as her sister.

“It was fun being in clinical with my sister. There was a built-in person to support you so you didn’t feel alone,” Ms. Casey said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck both sisters said they had already had the bulk of their foundations in-person such as learning how to take a person’s vital signs and learning how to administer injections. Yet there were classes that they had to take online due to the pandemic.

“We made the best of it and it was as good as it could be,” Ms. Ferschke said. “Cassara and I would go and study at the local library but once we were in lockdown, we used more of the online supports such as the tutoring.”

Ms. Casey said that while going to a virtual format was challenging, the nursing class continued to stay in touch with each other and their professors.

“The teaching staff opened their office hours and we felt supported academically and emotionally. They are the best staff I’ve ever had,” Ms. Casey said. “They were there to get us through the program. They are great nurses; so knowledgeable.”

Both sisters are mothers – Ms. Ferschke has a three-year-old and one on the way this August; while Ms. Casey has a nine-year-old who was doing his schooling remotely at the same time as his mom.

“When my son went back to in-person school it got a bit easier for me personally. While online was a learning process, being able to go through a recorded lecture pause the video and go back was really helpful,” Ms. Casey said.

In May 2021, both sisters graduated from QCC with their nurse education associate degree. Ms. Ferschke is now studying for the National Council Licensure Exam as she awaits the arrival of her second child. Her goal is to work in a hospital doing maternity care. Ms. Casey was accepted to Southern New Hampshire University and will be working toward her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, with the goal of one day working at a hospital in pediatrics or maternity.

“There are so many resources going to a community college. I also really liked the community feel it has. I checked out another community college closer to where I live and it was so different from QCC,” she said. “I like that QCC is more of a community.”