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A Summer of Exploration in Oncology Nursing

3 nursing students in scrubs stand outside with donor Fred Flynn
Rising senior Kelly Montesi, left, joins donor Fred Flynn and other Flynn Fellows for a photo outside Greenwich Hospital where the three students are learning about oncology nursing.

Whether racing through water or absorbing all she can about oncology nursing, Kelly Montesi, a rising senior nursing student and scholar-athlete, gives her all to each immersive experience. She is a highly regarded member of Villanova’s Swimming and Diving team, spending her summer as a Flynn Fellow at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, near her hometown of Riverside. “I am really enjoying the fellowship so far. It has been such a privilege,” she says.  

The eight-week summer externship opportunity for rising seniors, the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship, is named in memory of the wife of Stamford, Conn. businessman Frederick “Fred” C. Flynn Jr.  Susan died in 2013 following a three-year battle with ovarian cancer. The program partners top nursing schools with top hospitals to allow selected students to experience the depth and breadth of oncology nursing alongside accomplished preceptors. Villanova is one of only two nursing schools in the Philadelphia area selected to participate since 2015. Villanova students are supported in this fellowship through gifts from Fred Flynn and Dee ’86 BSN and Nick Adams.

“I applied to be a Flynn Fellow because I had an interest in oncology nursing and it seemed like a wonderful opportunity,” explains Kelly of the experience, “So far I've had the chance to work in the inpatient medical oncology unit and in the infusion center. I've also spent days alongside nurses and other healthcare providers with unique roles relating to cancer patients, and I had the opportunity to spend a week with the palliative care team.” At the end of her fellowship, she will design and present an evidence-based practice project relating to oncology. She advises students who might be interested in the fellowship to work on the application over winter break and to “recognize that there is always something to learn in every situation.”

Kelly is equally positive about her team’s outlook for next season. “It is going to be another great year of swimming for the Wildcats and I'm really looking forward to it,” she says. Kelly comes from a family of swimmers and has earned not only several “all-academic” athlete honors but was also named “Most Outstanding Women’s Swimmer” at the BIG EAST Championships last year following her wins in six events, including butterfly, freestyle relay and individual medley.   

Athletic successes aside, Kelly shares that she is still figuring out her career goals but explains, “I am getting a much clearer picture as a result of this fellowship exposing me to such wonderful educators.” She values the Flynn Fellowship opportunity, noting, “It has been an amazing experience as I have been exposed to the many different areas within oncology nursing in just 1 month and I'm excited to have another month ahead of me.”