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Mount Made: Flying on the Frontlines


Alumna, Air Force Major Responds to the Global Pandemic

Carolyn Concia ’90 is playing a critical role in the fight against COVID-19. As a frontline worker, she’s providing essential care to those finding themselves ailing from its effects.

At the Mount, Carolyn majored in nursing while also enrolling as an Air Force ROTC cadet through a joint partnership at neighboring Manhattan College. She then enlisted in the Air Force Reserves, where she’s been serving our country for over 30 years.

But Carolyn’s not your traditional healthcare provider. As a nurse in the United States Air Force Reserves, she’s tending to patients from over 20,000 feet in the air.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year and most of the world locked their doors, Carolyn jumped into action on the frontlines—hopping on a plane and beginning a 200-day temporary deployment as a flight nurse in COVID-decimated Germany.

As a flight nurse, Carolyn is stationed in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany at Ramstein Air Base. When alerted for a mission, she and her crew don PPE to care for COVID patients during their flights from Europe, Africa, or the Middle East back to Germany.

“On this assignment, I travel to areas across Europe and northern Africa hard-hit by COVID-19 and transport COVID-positive patients back to Germany for a higher echelon of care,” added Carolyn.

This job is not for the faint of heart.

Each mission, Carolyn and her crew are potentially exposed to active cases of COVID-19—patients who are so ill they need to be flown into another country for better care. These patients are scared, leaving behind families and loved ones. It’s Carolyn’s job to comfort and reassure them as they make that journey into Germany—and get them there safely.

Carolyn’s Air Force assignments have spanned the globe—including time spent at Clark Air Base in the Philippines; stateside bases in Illinois, North Carolina, Mississippi, and California; and deployments in Croatia, Qatar, and Germany. During her deployment in Croatia in 1996, Carolyn served as a trauma operating room nurse—providing immediate, critical care to severely injured patients. She deployed again when she returned overseas in 2017 as a flight nurse in Qatar.

Following her graduation from Mount Saint Vincent, she received a Master of Science in Nursing from Saint Louis University in 1998. A compassionate nurse practitioner, she owns her own geriatric and palliative care practice in Portland, Oregon.

“I love owning my own practice,” said Carolyn. “I make house calls for seniors and medically disabled adults who are homebound. Many of my patients are alone and dependent on the care of others. My studies as a nursing major at the Mount taught me not only the skills necessary for improving the quality of function of my patients, but the attitude, care, and concern so necessary when forming lasting connections with the medically vulnerable. It’s heartwarming to know that I can play a role in supporting the lives of my patients.”

When asked if her Mount education helped prepare her to launch her career, Carolyn’s answer was easy: “Absolutely!”

“My professors encouraged me to impact and change—maybe not the whole world—but our little corner of it in meaningful and purposeful ways,” said Carolyn. “The Mount really does educate the whole person, instilling in each and every student the qualities of goodness, discipline, and knowledge. I still carry those ideals with me in everything I do.”

And reflecting on her days on campus, Carolyn recalls spending time outside on the Mount’s campus relaxing with friends. She has kept in touch with three of her classmates whom she still considers her closest friends.

Always looking to further her education, Carolyn is currently in her first year of Ph.D. coursework in nursing at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“Mount Saint Vincent instilled in me a life-long love of learning,” said Carolyn. “I enjoy opportunities to expand my knowledge and learn how to better serve my patients.”

Back at home, Carolyn enjoys spending time hiking and traveling with her 15-year-old daughter, Nina, and her supportive spouse, James. Living on the West Coast has provided Carolyn and her family with endless trails, mountains, and landscapes for adventuring—keeping them connected with nature and the great outdoors.

We thank Carolyn for her years of dedicated service as a member of the United States Air Force Reserves. Her bravery and courage on the frontlines during her current deployment in Germany reflects her everlasting commitment to the Mount’s mission—illustrating her faithfulness to human dignity while serving those on the margins.

Are you Mount Made? Do you know other alums carrying out the mission of the College? Let us know—we’d love to share how the Mount helped launch your career. Contact us to be featured!

About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.