Holland College Blog

News and views from around the college

Mothers, Daughters, Fathers, Sons: going to college can be a family affair!

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Every year, over 2,000 students attend Holland College programs in centres across the Island. For many, it’s their first post-secondary experience. Some are fresh out of high school, others have been out of school for while and have decided to come back to retrain or to upgrade their skills. Still others have completed a university degree, but are now seeking practical training to enhance their employability. The average age of a Holland College student is around 23; but we have students from 17 to almost 60.

Holland College has always had a family feeling to it – small class sizes and lots of one-on-one time with the instructors have helped to build that sense of community. For some students, it’s not just a family “feeling”, though, it’s a reality.

With such a diverse age range, and because we live on an island with a population of around 140,000 in approximately 45,000 households, I wondered how many families had more than one person attending a program at Holland College at the same time, and how that affected their experience. Turns out, there are quite a few. I talked to some of them about what it’s like.

Sisters Karyn and Kady Brown

Sisters Karyn and Kady Brown

Sisters Karyn and Kady Brown are both in programs at the Charlottetown Centre. Karyn, 18, is taking Architectural Technology; Kady, 22, is taking Business Administration. The girls come from a family of nine children in Bayside, in the western part of Prince Edward Island.

Kady’s been living away from home for a while. For the past four years, she’s been travelling; but for Karyn living away from home is a new experience, one that she thinks has been easier to adapt to thanks to Kady.

“It’s nice to have someone to have lunch with, and knowing that Kady’s there for me,” she said. “Like when I fainted during a first aid class. They knew that Kady was in Business, so they got her to come up to the classroom!”

That sense of security, of not being all alone in a strange environment, was echoed by two other sisters, even though they are taking programs on different campuses.

Brandi Weibel is a student in the Sport and Leisure Management program in the Charlottetown Centre; her sister, Ashton, is in the Culinary Arts program of The Culinary Institute of Canada at the Tourism and Culinary Centre. They started their programs at the same time, which Brandi said has made a difference to her experience.

Sisters Brandi and Ashton Weibel

Sisters Brandi and Ashton Weibel

“Having my sister start school at the same time and at the same school is pretty awesome. We went to orientation together and had a blast! If she wasn’t in school with me, I definitely wouldn’t have gone!” she said. “It’s nice knowing that she is also doing working towards graduating the same year as me, so I know we can do it together. It’s kind of like a support team. It really helps a lot.”

Ashton agreed.

“At first, when I started school, I didn’t have any idea of what it was going to be like, and Brandi has already attended school before, so she helped me along with that. It’s also nice knowing that if either one of us needs help, we can help each other,” she said. “I do like having someone in my family going to school, it makes it easier knowing that we are both going to be what we want to be, and also we are both there for each other.”

Alice Doughty and her son, Kyle Gallant.

Alice Doughty and her son, Kyle Gallant.

For Alice Doughty and her son, Kyle Gallant, 24, being at college together is an extension of a family tradition. Alice attended UPEI with her other son, and has worked in the same place as both of her sons and her daughter before.

“It’s not so different for us,” she said.

Now she’s in her second year of Accounting Technology at the Charlottetown Centre, and Kyle is in the Electronics Engineering Technology program in the same wing of the building.

Kyle says having his mom in college at the same time has expanded his circle of friends.

“The biggest time we notice it is at lunch,” he said. “There’s a mixing of ages, instead of just staying with one group.”

Irene and Charlotte

Irene and Charlotte

Journalism student Charlotte MacAulay brings her daughter Irene, a Grade 12 student at Bluefield High School to the college for the morning. Irene is in the Transitions program for the semester. Irene said that it’s comforting knowing that her mom’s in the same building.

“If anything happens, I know they can go and get her,” she explained.

For the MacDonald family, Holland College really is becoming a family affair. Joe MacDonald graduated from the Power Engineering program at the Marine Training Centre, and now his wife Michele is taking the Business Administration program in Tignish, while their daughter Natasha is in the Fundamental Arts program in Charlottetown. Even though they are on different campuses, Michele still enjoys the fact that she and Natasha are both in college together.

“It is kind of cool…I am 46 and she is 19, which makes me wonder why I didn’t go to school when I was 19,” she said. As she points out, it’s never too late to go back to school. For the MacDonald family, coming to Holland College was the continuation of a change that started out west.

The MacDonald family: Joe, Nathan, Michele, Natasha, and Laura.

The MacDonald family: Joe, Nathan, Michele, Natasha, and Laura.

“Our dream of moving back home from Calgary was realized six years ago when we sold our business, Island Appliances. My husband, Joe, decided to enrol in the 4th Class Power Engineering course in Summerside and is currently working at Royal Star Foods.

“After he finished, I thought why not take advantage of the same opportunity? So at 46 years of age, I am currently in my second year of Business Administration at Holland College in Tignish.

“Our daughter, Natasha, is in the Fundamental Arts program at Holland College in Charlottetown, which is really great. I actually went for a day-long seminar recently in Charlottetown and was able to meet Natasha for lunch.

Our son Nathan is in Grade 11 and who knows? Maybe he will attend Holland College in Alberton! If he does, as a family, we will have taken advantage of four Holland College locations on the Island. How cool is that?”

Natasha is enthusiastic about her parents’ latest endeavours, but not without a couple of reservations!

“I am very proud my parents decided to go back to school. I think that both my mom and I going to college at the same time is a little odd though. At least we are not going to the same college parties!”

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Written by Sara Underwood

January 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Alumni, Students

One Response

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  1. My name is Juanita Bradley and I am taking the Child and Youth Care Worker Program. My first cousin, Lynn Bradley is taking the Correctional Officer Course and our uncle Bill Bradley is taking business!

    Juanita Bradley

    January 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm


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