A Return to Brooks


"I think it's funny that I came back here, because here is where I decided I wanted to go into nursing," said Nicole Rivera '17, who spent the winter session engaging in her senior preceptorship at the Brooks Health & Wellness Center. She's enrolled in the nursing program at UMass-Lowell and credits Brooks with helping her prepare for the rigors of the competitive program.

"I owe a lot to Brooks," she told the Brooks Bulletin, for an article about her experience in an upcoming issue. "I think Brooks prepared me well for what I'm doing now. I found the workload at UMass-Lowell not easy, but doable, and I could handle the workload."


As part of her program's requirements, Rivera has completed clinical rotations through different nursing specialties, from time spent in a psychiatric unit to, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, time spent examining pediatric case studies in an online rotation.

Now, in her last semester, she's completing her senior preceptorship — her first stint as a qualified nurse — at Brooks. "I spoke with my counselor at UMass-Lowell, and she suggested that I reach out to Brooks," Rivera said. "I emailed [Director of Health Services] Tracey Costantino to see if we could make something work, and it did!"

"When Nicole asked me to do her senior preceptorship here at Brooks, I was so excited," Costantino said. "I love the nursing profession, and to be able to share it with one of Brooks's alums makes it extra special. I often have conversations with Brooks students about the many opportunities in nursing and remember having conversations with Nicole about the profession when she was in high school. I look forward to providing her with positive experiences here at Brooks and helping her to grow in her ability to be the best nurse she can be — and I have no doubt that she is going to be great!"

Learn about the internship opportunities in Brooks School's Students on the Forefront of Science program.

"I was super happy, and super excited to be back," Rivera added. "It's cool because this is where I decided I wanted to be a nurse, so being able to be here in this setting, and do it, and put it into practice is really cool — it's exciting."

Rivera has enjoyed having a chance to see her old stomping grounds, and recalled touring the campus when checking the school's installed Automated external defibrillators. "I hadn't been here since I graduated, and I was so excited to go into the dining hall, the Classroom Building and the Center for the Arts, which is new to me!" she said. She also ran into science teacher Laura Hajdukiewicz, who taught Rivera honors anatomy and physiology. "I told her that I loved her class because we got to see open heart surgery," Rivera said. "She asked me if her class helped me in college, and I was like, 'Yes, it really did.'"

Rivera's preceptorship, which concludes when the school leaves for Spring Break, allowed her to experience the day-to-day life as a Brooks nurse while also working on her educational requirements. For example, Rivera is required to engage in a case study on one patient. She has also been a familiar face at the school's routine COVID-19 test site.

She doesn't volunteer to current students that she is a Brooksian herself, but she does hope to connect with current students. "My goal is to get at least one of them to talk, get to know them, and to help them get through any physical or mental health issues they may be having," she said. "That would be really cool and meaningful for me, I think, at the end of this."

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