Phil Berry ‘23 felt like they were stuck in an endless line of minimum wage food service jobs when they decided to apply for Anna Maria College’s Nursing Program. While a little bit older than their peers, Phil was determined to change their life through education. Now after graduating in May, Phil does not just have a job, but they have a fulfilling career that they love as a Medical Surgical Nurse at UMass Medical Center in Worcester.  

“Anna Maria was my pathway out of a cycle of poverty, to be very honest with you,” Phil said, “I’ve been able to get my finances in order and really find some stability that wouldn’t be there otherwise. I am very grateful for my Anna Maria experience because it changed my life.” 

Phil was inspired to become a nurse after looking at the world around them and realizing that while they could not solve all the world’s problems, they could create little positive changes in the lives of patients every day.  

Phil was a first-generation student who was in foster care and looking for a life change when they decided to enroll at Quinsigamond Community College. The guidance counselor there recommended Anna Maria College as an institution with a strong nursing program that could offer Phil the support they needed.   

“How can I make a difference in the world with what I have to give? That’s really what drew me to nursing,” Phil explained, “Then I realized when I went to school that we are able to give more when we know more, in other words we can do better when we know better. Anna Maria really helped me to know better. In the program you learn from people and professors, regardless of whether or not you agree with them or not, you get to gain perspective and all those different perspectives were very profound to me.” 

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a daunting series of tests that all Registered Nurses must pass to work in their fields. In 2022, Anna Maria nursing students scored 91%, well above the national average of 80% with the Massachusetts average pass rate being 82%. 

According to Phil, during their time in the Nursing Program, the faculty and clinical instructors prepared students to confidently pass the NCLEX. Each course was valuable teaching either skills which students could use hands-on in real life situations or as prep for the NCLEX. Phil particularly appreciated that Anna Maria was focused on career readiness. 

“The strongest point that Anna Maria drove home is that they prepare you for licensure, in other words real world nursing which is so different than school nursing. Nurses perform so many different roles within our community,” Phil said, “So, it gives you the educational foundation to be able to build your own nursing practice, in whichever direction you want to take. Anybody in our nursing program could go on to become a nurse practitioner if they want to advance their practice or they could go on to work in Medical Surgery, or in ICU, or as a flight medic, or they could do injections and Botox in aesthetic nursing, or they could be a school nurse…there’s so many directions!” 

Phil is passionate about their career and is excited to see where this exciting and interesting journey takes them, perhaps one day it will bring them back to Anna Maria College as an educator themselves.  

“One of my clinical instructors said your Anna Maria education and your license is the key to opening up your future and the future that you open up is yours to decide. I still hold on to that because I am in it right now and I am still deciding what I want to do. And I think that is the most powerful part, is that education opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me and now I get to decide where I go from here.”