Devon and Katie Pennick-Reilly are delighted at how popular their mom, Joy, has been among their fellow students at the Waterfront Campus.
“Many of her friends here are the same age as me,” notes Devon, a second-year Screen Arts student. “But they didn’t look at her as a parental figure.”
Katie, a first-year Therapeutic Recreation student, agrees, adding, “I got to see another side of my mom and hear stories of what she’s like in class, so it’s been a very interesting experience.”
The thought of going to college with a parent might strike many as awkward or embarrassing. For these fraternal twins, it has been a welcome opportunity to have seen their mom, a second-year Therapeutic Recreation student, in a whole new light. But how did it come about? Devon says it started with her checking out the College’s Screen Arts program.
“I’ve been drawn to film all my life and I’d heard great things about NSCC’s program, so I researched it. My mom helped me a lot with that and we realized it was a great school.”
Inspired by that research, Joy, a jeweler who has volunteered with therapeutic recreation programs, looked into NSCC’s Therapeutic Recreation program. Katie, who was in the College’s Academic and Career Connections program, quickly became interested in her mom’s experiences.
“I saw how much fun she was having in her courses, so I decided to enter the program too.”
Though a year apart, Katie and Joy have taken one course together – Intro to Leisure Studies. Katie says it was a real eye-opener. “We discovered we have the same learning patterns and processes, but we manage our time in different ways. I also discovered it’s hard having independence when your mom’s in your class.”
Such challenges are outweighed by the fact that all three have been very supportive of each other, and have found a very nurturing environment at NSCC. “It’s the hands-on aspect that appeals to me,” says Joy. “There are placements and volunteer work, so you’re constantly applying your skills while you’re learning.”
Devon agrees, adding, “You really get to know what every person does in your industry and what’s expected of you, and that gives you an advantage in the job market.”
That advantage will come in handy for Devon and Joy now that they have both graduated. Katie plans to take advantage of NSCC’s Articulation Agreement with Dalhousie University to earn her degree on top of her diploma. While they will all gain invaluable skills and diplomas, it’s the time they’ve spent together at the College they’ll always treasure.
“It’s been good for me because I’ve been able to get to know my daughters and their friends in a way that I probably wouldn’t have,” says Joy. “I’m really going to miss this a lot.”