2011 Parent of the Year

LaGrange mom named Parent of the Year Every Tuesday and Thursday Marilyn Barraclough drives her daughter Kirsten to the University of Louisville's Belknap Campus from their home in LaGrange.

She'll make sure her daughter, who travels in a motorized wheelchair, gets from class to class, either by walking with her or helping her route a path. Sometimes she'll go to class with her daughter to fill in as a note taker when one is not available.

In short, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure Kirsten, who has cerebral palsy, can one day achieve her dream of being a librarian.

For her hard work and dedication to not just Kirsten, but also to her son Thomas, a UofL freshman engineering major, Barraclough received the 2011 UofL Parent of the Year Award.

"It's such an honor and so emotional," Barraclough said after the ceremony, sitting at table with her two children. "I just want to do what I can so that she can stay on this path."

The award, now in its fourth year, is designed to let students recognize their parents for the help and support they've given to them throughout their lives. Students nominate their parents by writing a letter and then submitting it to a committee of faculty, staff and students for consideration.

UofL received more than 30 nominations this year for Parent of the Year and gave the award Oct. 1 during Cardinal Family Weekend.

Both of Barraclough's children nominated her for the award.

Kirsten wrote in her nomination letter that her mother is there to help her every day. She noted that the past year has been a challenge because her father moved to Arizona for a job and her mother stayed behind to help her succeed at school.

"In my mind, my mother is Parent of the Year every year," Kirsten wrote.

Thomas wrote that his mother deserves the award not just for what she does for him, but also for everything she does for Kirsten.

"It is hard to imagine how much time and effort both of my parents have put into helping my sister get to where she is now," he wrote.

Many of the nominated parents attended the ceremony alongside their children. Each nominee received a rolled scroll that included his or her child's nomination letter. Dean of Students Michael Mardis read excerpts from some of the letters that highlighted parents' accomplishments.

The ceremony, Mardis said, is one of his favorites of the year because it showcases parents who help UofL's outstanding students.

"I want to thank you for everything you've done," he told the parents.