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Wendy Arena, PhD student, Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing

I’ve worked and learned in a lot of different organizations and can say that the type of culture at UMass Chan is exceptional.”

When Wendy Arena, MSN, began teaching nursing full-time at Fitchburg State University, she set a goal for herself to earn her doctorate. Some of her teaching colleagues attended the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing at UMass Chan Medical School, and that’s where Arena decided to earn her PhD.

“What appealed to me was the face-to-face format and the freedom to pursue my own research interests rather than conform to what the faculty are involved in,” said Arena. “I can’t say enough about my PhD cohort. We bonded quickly. We all arrived here through different paths, but it feels like we’re all exactly where we’re meant to be.”

Arena was born in Southern California and moved to Massachusetts with hopes of becoming an English major at Fitchburg State University. She switched her major last minute to nursing.

Arena has worked on an inpatient geriatric psychiatry unit, in home care and as a school nurse. As someone who has experienced several learning environments for nurses, she believes that culture is what makes UMass Chan extraordinary.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how inclusive and accommodating the faculty and support staff have been,” said Arena. “I feel seen and heard by everybody. I’ve worked and learned in a lot of different organizations and can say that this type of culture is exceptional.”

Arena has an interest in alternative and complementary health, and would like to do an internship with military families, potentially at the community-based outpatient clinic for veterans on the UMass Chan campus. For her dissertation research, Arena hopes to work with military families living with the effects of depression and trauma. It’s a topic near and dear to her: her husband experienced PTSD after he was deployed to Afghanistan.