Sister act Kerri and Colene graduate together

University launches siblings' new nursing careers

Date posted

1 November 2018


Two sisters are enjoying a double celebration after they both graduated in nursing at the same ceremony at Edinburgh Napier University.

Kerri and Colene outside the Usher Hall

Mature student Kerri Russell, 44, and little sister Colene Flannigan, 35, each began studying at the university following big career changes.

Mother-of-four and granny-of-three Kerri turned to learning disability nursing following a career in retail, while Colene, mum to three primary school girls, worked in sport and fitness before immersing herself in the challenges of mental health nursing.

The siblings joined hundreds of other students at a ceremony in the Usher Hall today to collect their Bachelor of Nursing degrees.

Kerri, from Blackburn, West Lothian, said it was a surprise they had both ended up studying nursing at the university; she had initially been looking at another course, and Colene had considered going to a different university.

She added: “I struggled at times due to juggling life as a mum, gran and student, but I am thrilled to have finally reached the end of the academic journey.

“I came to university with an HNC in social care and did look at studying social work, before switching to nursing. I am by no means academic and I am dyslexic, but I pride myself in having passed all my course work.

Kerri and Colene as children; Kerri in a blue dressing gown, Colene as a baby and their other sister Kelli is in pink.

“University life had a lot of ups and downs but we got through it with the support of our fellow student nurses. Our other sister Kelli is also a nurse, as are my nephew and sister-in-law.”

Kerri now takes up a post as a Community Learning Disability Nurse in Edinburgh, while little sister Colene, from Armadale, is due to start work as a Community Mental Health Nurse in West Lothian.

Colene, who did an access to nursing course and, like Kerri, combined her studies with working on the NHS Lothian staff bank, said: “It was hard juggling everything but Kerri and I have supported each other throughout this journey, and we are very proud to graduate together.”

School of Health & Social Care

The UK’s envied healthcare model, Scotland’s strong reputation for health training and our research-active academics makes Edinburgh Napier the ideal place to study, no matter where you are based.