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Family of nurses is proud to serve during pandemic

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Many families at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington know Cathy Carroll, who has served in the academics office for 28 years, and who lovingly transported hundreds of children over those years in her yellow school bus from Southern Maryland to Bishop O'Connell. Some O'Connell families also know her as the mother of five daughters, four of whom are O'Connell graduates.

All five Carroll daughters became registered nurses. Together they have given 67 years to the profession.

Twins Christina (Tina) and Regina (Gina) both graduated from O'Connell in 1995 and pursued degrees in nursing at Marymount University in Arlington. Gina has been a nurse for nearly 21 years and currently leads an emergency room team in a Southern Maryland hospital. 

"What I love most about being a nurse is the satisfaction of helping others through their worst moments," she said.

Tina served as a pediatric nurse until she died in 2008. "I know she would have been one of the first to stand up in these times right now and say, ‘I am here, and I am not afraid,’ ” her sister Kimberly said.

Like her older sisters, Ashly also studied nursing at Marymount. She currently coordinates and provides care for those in the community in need of complex spinal surgeries. 

"I became a nurse because I have always been passionate about the betterment of human life," Ashly said.

The youngest sister, Courtny, is another Marymount nursing graduate. She lives in California, where she works as a traveling intensive care unit nurse. 

"Nursing is not just a career to me, it is my passion — the love of helping people, and the challenge of not knowing what I will face each day," Courtny said. "This is a trying time for every nurse, but I cannot imagine being anywhere but in a hospital helping others. I am thankful I have a job, blessed to have my health, and extremely proud to be a nurse."

Kimberly is the oldest Carroll daughter. She attended La Reine High School in Maryland, an all-girls Catholic high school that merged with McNamara in the 1990s. She has been a nurse for 25 years, working in all facets of women's and children's health, including labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care, mother and infant care and pediatrics. Kimberly's ties to O'Connell go beyond her sisters or mom. Her daughter, Skylar, is a 2018 O'Connell graduate who is following the family career path and currently pursuing a nursing degree at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

"I can say this about each of my sisters without reservation: They show up to work every scheduled shift, roll up their sleeves and fight for those who cannot," Kimberly said.

"Despite our different nursing backgrounds, we have each stared this virus in the face — the faces of men, women and children," she added. "This virus does not discriminate, but instead it is a grand equalizer hurling us to our knees, physically, spiritually and emotionally. We fight because it is our calling … it is our passion.”

Their parents are the inspiration for the sisters’ lives of service, Kimberly added: “our father, who served for 27 years in the United States Army and our mother, who has worked for Bishop O'Connell for the last 28 years, as she served her family 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Cathy Carroll and her husband, Michael, are extremely proud of their children. "As all five daughters were starting their careers, we were regaled with stories of how our children were helping others — babies, children, mothers and adults," Cathy said. "During these difficult times today, we have had our apprehension, but we stick by our belief that God has a plan for all. We have raised our children and watched them become strong women who give their lives every day to serve others in need."

Spurlock is director of communications at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020