Nurse Holly Hagy has lived all over the country. Now her biggest concern is taking care of the students and teachers in Magdalena.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain


At Magdalena Schools when a student is sick or injured, they turn to nurse Holly Hagy for help.

How long have you been working here in Magdalena?

I have been here since 2016. I started at the school in 2017. I actually came to this neighborhood because I got a job at Socorro General Hospital.

Are you still working in Socorro?

I am. I do the four-day class schedule here in Magdalena and then I work on the weekends in Socorro. I commute back and forth. At the hospital we do 12-hour shifts and I work at night. Here at the school I start around 7:30 in the morning and get off around 4 p.m.

Walk us through your basic day here at Magdalena.

I come here in the morning, and I attend to the kids as well as, recently more often, the staff. The biggest part recently has been centered around COVID. Making sure the kids stay safe and making sure they follow the rules outlined by the New Mexico Department of Health. I have many, many boxes of masks for students as well as ways to isolate people. Basically, my job is to take care of people.

What has the pandemic been like for you?

Incredibly stressful. We had that period of time when the kids weren’t even in school, and it was all online. We all feel that kids did not get a full education experience during that time. Now that we are fully back in school, I get calls from parents concerned if their child has a sore throat, for example, can they come in. I have a whole litany of questions I go through that is new for us. Is it really just allergies, or is it symptoms of COVID? I just want everyone here to be healthy and safe. At the hospital on the COVID wing we are almost always full, and we have had patients very sick to the point where we could no longer take care of them. We would have to ship some patients up to Albuquerque and that is always a sad moment.

How did you get involved in nursing?

I got my bachelor’s degree, it was actually my second degree as my first was in chemistry, from Drexel University in Philadelphia. This is kind of a third career for me.

Where were you born and raised?

I come from a town called Hamden in Connecticut. I lived the first 21 years of my life there in the house that my father built. I grew up with two brothers, Ricky and Craig, who are still living back in Hamden. They both have families and children and grandchildren. I didn’t follow that route.

What made you leave home?

A friend of mine in college and her family moved near Princeton, N.J. During her senior year of college, she didn’t know anybody, so I helped her find a job. So, I ended up moving to New Jersey after spending two years living in Colorado after graduation. After I moved to New Jersey I started off as a commodities broker and I worked in New York, including working at the World Trade Center. That was in the early 80s and I eventually met my future husband Charles who has since passed on. We were married for 28 years before he died.

Why did you leave that career?

My husband and I went into marketing and advertising. We did that for art material stores. We had great clients all over the country as well as in Canada. When my husband was dying, I knew that I did not want to continue the company without him. That is when I decided to look for something else in life and I always had a love for medicine, so I started this career.

As somebody from the East Coast, why choose Magdalena?

I wanted to work in a rural area. An underserved area. I signed up on a government list and put down seven states I was willing to go. A person from T or C called me to come out. While I was here, I took a look at Presbyterian, and I accepted a position there. Coming to New Mexico, I was looking to see what type of housing was available. I found this little town called Magdalena the week I was doing interviews and I absolutely fell in love with this place. And on Jan. 1 of 2016, after 30 years, I left N.J., packed up my stuff, including my four birds and a cat, and arrived in my Mini Cooper.

What is your favorite part about living in Magdalena?

The high desert. I love the mountains. I love the openness and the sky. Plus, I have made some great friendships. I told one friend after about two years living here that this was the place I was always meant to live. I do miss the East Coast, in particular going to the best museums or having season tickets to the best operas. But I am happy here.

What is your favorite movie?

I don’t watch movies very often but a recent one is “The Octopus Teacher.” That documentary is so beautiful and so calming. It shows how other creatures are so receptive to love and communication. I found that movie outstanding and I even showed it to my kids here.

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do with the money?

One of things I would do was give some of it to Drexel. Two reasons. First, they provided me a way to get here. Two, it would be for their nursing program, particularly students willing to come to rural areas.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I walk a lot. I walk in the mountains around here. I have a dog, so we go out almost every day after work. I also enjoy simply getting together with friends for dinner.

If you could change one thing in Socorro County, what would it be?

The viability of Socorro town. I would like to see more businesses. More opportunities for people to earn a living. The area is so in need of places that people can work.

Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain