Mothers and daughters typically share recipes, secrets, even fashions.
But Barbara Kohler of Coaldale and her daughter Briane Shane share something else: Both are college students, and both recently made the Dean's list at their respective schools.
Kohler, 44, is studying accounting and human resources management at LCCC. Briane, 21, is studying interior design with a minor in art history at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Kohler, who just completed her freshman year, earned a 3.75 cumulative Grade Point Average, earning a spot on the Dean's list in both the fall 2009 and the spring semesters; Shane, who has made the Dean's list four times, earned a 3.42 cumulative GPA for the academic year.
"This spring, we both made the Dean's list together," Kohler said.
Shane is participating in IUP's Ronald E. McNair Scholar's Program, a federal program named after the late Dr. Ronald E. McNair, an African American physicist and NASA astronaut who died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. The program supports students who have demonstrated a strong academic potential to on to graduate school and who are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Shane intends to pursue a Master's degree and, eventually, a doctoral degree.
For her mother, the goals are much more immediate: employment.
Kohler, a single mother, moved with Shane from their Upper Dauphin County home in Sept. 2007 to be closer to her bookkeeping/office manager job in Saint Clair. As her employer shed workers, Kohler found herself doing the work of more than three people. She said she had gotten a business grant for the company that allowed it to expand and negotiated a health-care package that saved her employer $20,000 over two years.
"Five months after I moved, he let me go," she said. "I had been with him since Sept. 2005."
With three weeks of unemployment left, her savings gone, and with a mortgage and a car payment to scrape up each month, Kohler is under the gun. "I got out there and looked for work," she said.
She was hired by Mahoning Valley Country Club, but the business was undergoing woes of its own, and, after working 10 weeks without pay, she said, Kohler was again out of a job.
She had read about LCCC's Employment Retraining Opportunity program, which is designed to get workers back into jobs by offering free tuition. She still had to buy books, however.
She visited the CareerLink office in Pottsville to apply, and started at the college last fall.
"As long as I'm not getting hired, as long as I'm not finding work out there, I may as well go back to school and get my degree since a lot of businesses are looking for a degreed person to do their bookkeeping and office administration/human resources," she said.
Kohler anticipates graduating with dual Associate's degrees in 2012. She's taking her courses online so she can look for work and be available if a job becomes available.
"If it's possible down the road, after that, I will go for my bachelor's degree," she said.