Carrington College Blog

Corie and Caitlyn Austin: A Mother-Daughter Journey through Carrington College

January 30, 2024

Corie and Caitlyn Austin are a mother-and-daughter duo who simultaneously attended Carrington College in Portland, Oregon. Corie learned Pharmacy Technology while Caitlyn followed her long-standing passion for animals into Veterinary Assisting. Together, they realized their dreams of advancing their educations and working in stable careers that they enjoy. Both of them graduated in 2023.


Let’s start with each of you telling me a bit about yourself.

Corie: I am forty-five and have five kids, including Caitlyn, my oldest. I’ve been interested in the medical field for quite a while, but I started by studying criminal justice. I received my GED and a scholarship to attend Mt. Hood Community College. I did criminal justice studies there until I decided that I didn’t want someone knocking on my door telling my kids that I wasn’t coming home because I died at work. I changed my focus and went on to study medical billing and coding, and then massage therapy. I even opened my own massage therapy business. I did that until 2009 when I needed to shut down my business and focus on being a stay-at-home mom. Once my kids were grown, I thought it was time to return to school and get into something new. I took a look at Carrington College and decided on the Pharmacy Technology program. I wrapped up my externship on September 14th and graduated on October 6th. Now I’m working on my Associates in Health Studies through Carrington College.


Caitlyn: I am twenty-seven years old and was naturally drawn to the show The Crocodile Hunter when I was growing up. It was the first thing that inspired me to want to work with animals. I grew up and did security jobs along the way, but working with animals was always my goal. I started the Veterinary Assisting program in 2017, but I had family issues that I needed to deal with then, so I dropped out. I was able to go back to Carrington College this time and finish. My program ended six weeks before my mom’s.


What motivated you to choose Carrington College?

Corie: The programs are faster-paced and take less time. Plus, the school continues to work with you after you graduate. It also feels like a family. Caitlin and I both like that because we are very people- and family-oriented. I also like it because I had the experience of going to the bigger community college where you feel like just another number. At Carrington College, they get to know everybody and you feel like you are part of a team.


Caitlyn: I like the smaller class sizes. We also could bring in our pets to help with our learning. I brought in my medical alert dog that could detect an asthma attack three hours before it would happen.


What was your favorite part of your program at Carrington College?

Corie: All of it because there was so much information. If I had to pick, I’d probably say compounding because we would mix different things and see how they’d react. I also liked the retail part because that is what I do now.


Caitlyn: I enjoyed learning how to use an IV catheter on a cat and perform blood draws.


What was the most challenging part of your program?

Corie: Math was the most challenging aspect for me because there are so many different ways we have to do it for our job, depending on what we are dispensing. There are ointments, creams, liquids, etcetera. Then we have weights, pediatric vs. adult dosages, and so on. Also, the externship is fast-paced compared to school, so you must adjust to that.


Caitlyn: The externship was the most challenging part for me because I expected things to come a bit easier than they did. I quickly realized that it takes practice for things to come easily.


Did you ever want to quit when you were in school?

Corie: I don’t think I ever wanted to quit. I was excited to finish. Caitlyn and I kind of turned it into a little bit of a competition over who can get better grades–mom or daughter? She would ride to school with me when I went there in the mornings. I had class at that time, and she could study onsite while she waited for her classes to start in the afternoon. Then, I could do my homework while she was in class. I would encourage her and she would say, “Mom, you can do this” if I was struggling.


Caitlyn: I had a different and more determined outlook being in the program than I did when I was younger. I also came home a couple of weeks into my externship to discover that my dog’s back legs were ice cold. He had three different types of cancer and so I had to put him down. I was motivated to stick with the program for him.


What got you through the challenging times?

Corie: The support system from the staff and teachers at the school. Also, my classmates and family were very supportive.


Caitlyn: My animals.


Are there any Carrington College instructors or staff members whom you would like to acknowledge?

Corie: Miss Tracey because she always has her door open to students, and is always willing to answer questions.


Caitlyn: Marina and Stacey. They both had faith in me even when I was losing it and said I could do it. I’m so glad they encouraged me.


Please tell us about your current externship or work.

Corie: Fred Meyer hired me from my externship working at least part-time, all the way up to full-time hours. I’m able to go to multiple stores to pick up hours so I haven’t worked a part-time week yet.


Caitlyn: I was hired at Gateway Veterinary Hospital after my externship. It is a small, one-doctor practice and I love it. My first patient was a 13-year-old pitbull terrier.


What do you enjoy most about your externship or work?

Corie: I like that I get to help people feel better every day. I also like how we all work together. It is a team effort.


Caitlyn: I like how we have different patients that come in with different issues all the time. There is variety. We see ear issues, foot issues, digestive issues, skin issues, behavioral issues, and so on. There is always something different.


How did Carrington College equip you for your career?

Corie: They bring a lot of knowledge of the field. They also give you a lot of practice time. It’s a lot slower-paced in school compared to being in a commercial environment, but I understand that it has to be that way for teaching. One thing that I think would be helpful is to learn even more about the drugs for diabetics. There are a lot of diabetics out there and the incredible variety of drugs can get confusing. Otherwise, I think it is great.


Caitlyn: They helped by giving us a lot of practice time for IVs, catheters, splints, etcetera. That helped set me up for success in my career.


Do you have any advice for people pursuing the same certificates?

Corie: I found that time management is an essential skill, especially if you haven’t been in school for a while. If they offer open lab, go in and do the extra practice. In the pharmacy setting, there were a couple of times I was surprised when I needed extra practice. You can never be over-prepared. Take the time out to study. Don’t put off your schoolwork. Get it done sooner than later. Study for your board exams sooner rather than later. Don’t put stuff off, it’s not worth it.


Caitlyn: If you have a chance to practice in an open lab, do it!


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