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Courage: Being Afraid and Doing It Anyway

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It’s not just seasoned and experienced healthcare workers putting aside their fears while choosing to fight on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing students like SkillsUSA alumna Rylie Lage of Billerica, Mass., are lending their essential skills to the cause, too.  

Lage, 19, is a 2019 Shawsheen Valley Technical High School graduate and a current student at Shawsheen Valley School of Practical Nursing (both in Billerica). She was recently hired as a licensed practical nurse by Bear Hill Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Stoneham, Mass., to help support the additional responsibilities the pandemic is placing on staff there. 

“I do the 3 – 11 p.m. [shift,],” Lage says. “Right now I am doing more patient care. It is definitely scary now because of the virus. It’s very sad to see it.” 

The fear isn’t stopping Lage from applying the knowledge she’s learned in school and through SkillsUSA to help comfort and treat residents who’ve been isolated as they battle the illness. “I really try to not be scared around them,” she says. “These patients still need care, they need someone to be with them. Especially because their family isn’t there right now. It makes me want to be there for them.” 

Lage’s current instructor, Patty Noonan, says the training her students have received — plus the many hours of practical clinical experience they’ve accumulated in their hands-on programs — have made them more than ready to face real-world challenges during this pandemic. “I try to teach the students it’s not about the task, it is really about the patient experience,” Noonan explains. 

“Essential workers on the frontlines are critical, and SkillsUSA members like Rylie Lage have answered the call,” says SkillsUSA Massachusetts director Karen Ward. “What makes them vital to our nation’s ability to get to the other side of this pandemic is their training in the essential elements of the SkillsUSA framework of personal, workplace and technical skills.” 

Ward goes on to say, “Without question, their ability to step up as essential workers is a direct result of their CTE [career and technical education] training coupled with SkillsUSA involvement, which helps them embrace the idea of a quality work ethic, teamwork, adaptability, flexibility and a deep belief in the dignity of essential work. We are exceptionally proud of our members like Rylie who have stepped up and put into action the knowledge, skills and abilities learned in their CTE programs as SkillsUSA members.” 

(Thanks to for select quotes and material used in this article.)  

Photo courtesy of Rylie Lage.

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