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Mother joins daughter in HCA program at AOLCC

If there was an award for Mom of the Year, Kathie Mueller-Barrios would certainly be considered highly for the award.

Her daughter Jade was looking for some reassurance when she was looking to enroll in the Health Care Aide (HCA) program at the Academy of Learning, Kathie didn’t just offer her support to her daughter, she decided to take the plunge alongside her – both enrolled as HCA students. 

Mother and daughter were now classmates, experiencing college life together every step of the way.  And, they both graduated with honours last year.

“My daughter was in a real dark slump, and I really felt going to school would be a good change for her, and I remember talking it over with her and offered to take the program with her,” recalled Mueller-Barrios.

“I too was also looking for something different. I wanted something I could do and enjoy leading up to my retirement."

“It was time for a change. I had been working in retail for over 30 years. My family comes first and (Jade’s) mental health was so important to me, and I also felt it would be a good change for me, too.”

Bell Bottoms, 8-tracks and the Bee-Gees were all the craze back in the 70s when Mueller-Barrios was last in school.

She admits that although there were challenges in her return to class, having her daughter by her side was a big help.

“When it came to studying, I had no idea how to study. It was a challenge to have to learn that all over again,” said Mueller-Barrios

“Ironically, it was my daughter who taught me different study methods. We really leaned on each other throughout the school year to help each other out."

“I was really happy to share that experience with her. She was nervous because it was a step up from high school, and since I hadn’t been to school in so many years, we held each other’s hands.”

Kathie didn’t just get strong support from her daughter and other classmates. AOLCC staff work hard to help each student strive for and find success.

No matter your age, when you decide to begin your academic journey, AOLCC staff care for and serve all students, both inside the classroom and online.
“When you’re my age, and you go back to school, you’re not sure what direction it will go, but the ladies at the college really helped guide me and give me all the resources I needed,” said Mueller-Barrios.

“There was no age prejudice. They were really kind and patient. We learned differently back in the day, and this was a whole new way of learning, but they’re there to help you every step of the way."

Kathie excelled in the classroom, and while she was proud of that fact, she got even more satisfaction seeing her daughter flourish during her time at AOLCC.

“I was so darn proud of her…to see her blossom,” said Mueller-Barrios.

“(Prior to AOLCC) She was so down and now she’s such an incredible healthcare aid. I’m in awe when I watch her with the residents.”

Both Kathie and Jade work for Timberstone Mews, a retirement community developed by Christenson Communities.

Jade works as a health care aide and Kathie as a recreational coordinator.

Kathie enjoys her role as recreation coordinator as she finishes her final working years before retirement.

But most of all, she gets so much joy being able to see her daughter first-hand take what she learned at AOLCC and thrive in her career as a health care aid.

“The residents love and respect her so much,” said Mueller-Barrios.

“Seeing her flourish and forge her own path as a health care aide. It’s such a proud moment for me as her mother.”