In high school, Felicia Fekay of Whitefield faced a choice of whether to enter culinary arts or nursing programs. She chose a LNA (licensed nursing assistant) program and soon realized how rewarding it was to be able to help others.
Later, working as an LNA in a nursing home, her career path became even more clear — and her choice reinforced by the experience of caring for a dying patient and comforting their family.
“The family gave me a hug and said “Thank you so much for the care you’ve given to (their loved one). They really love you,’” she said. “It was like, wow, I actually made a difference in these people’s lives, and it was a very fulfilling feeling.”
With some help from Charitable Foundation Medallion Fund scholarships, Felicia took the next step, graduating in December from River Valley Community College’s LPN (licensed practical nurse) program in Littleton.
Medallion Fund scholarships help people in the trades or pursuing certifications in emerging technical sectors and other high-growth occupations in demand in New Hampshire. The scholarships help cover costs for certificates, licensing, apprenticeships and two-year college degrees.
“I am really appreciative and grateful. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” said Felicia, who plans to enroll this year in a program to become a registered nurse.
Felicia began working as an LNA in nursing homes after graduating from Littleton High School and earning her LNA license through the Hugh J. Gallen Regional Career and Technical Education Center.
“When got my license and started working at the nursing homes, I realized how rewarding it was and how much I enjoyed helping people and being able to make a difference, then realized I want to go further,” she said. “I felt like I could do more as a nurse.”
Felicia has been working at the Country Village Center Nursing Home in Lancaster since 2017, where she cherishes the rapport she shares with residents.
“They always call me their adopted granddaughter,” she said.
With her River Valley degree, she was promoted to LPN, with a pay raise.
Felicia thrives on the daily challenges of nursing. She already has experienced two of most complex nursing challenges ever: the COVID-19 pandemic and the nursing shortage affecting all of health care.
The pandemic took a huge toll on nursing home residents and staff, Felicia said.
“We were the residents’ family because there were no visitors allowed,” she said. “Imagine staying in a room for so long, not being able to interact and go to activities. It was nice to be able to be there for them, just to make sure they were okay and not alone.”
Felicia hopes that by becoming a nurse, she will be able to help ease some pressure the nursing shortage has caused for colleagues and patients.
“I’m excited to be able to be part of a team and just help out and do what I can to be the best nurse I can be,” she said.
As a single mom with two toddlers, she also is committed to her schooling and career to help secure her family’s future.
“I want to be able to provide for my children and give them a good life,” Felicia said.