From residential counselor to RN, Marilyn Olegario’s journey at The Barry Robinson Center (BRC) shows commitment and compassion, mixed with a strong dose of personal and professional growth. “This is the place where I grew up,” she said.
Olegario marked her last day at the center on June 25, 2020, after 13 years of service. She and her Navy husband are moving to California.
“I first heard about BRC through a website with job listings related to my degree. I have four degrees including a BS in Human Services Counseling from Old Dominion University,” she explained. “I was highly interested in working with children, and psych (behavioral health) was always fascinating to me.”
Olegario started working as a residential counselor with teens. She worked with older boys and girls for about three years before floating among all age groups.
In 2007, Olegario received her LPN from the Sentara School of Nursing. For a few years, she worked as both a residential counselor and in the infirmary. At the same time, she continued her education. She graduated from Norfolk State University’s accelerated LPN to BSN program in 2011. For the past several years, she’s worked mostly with BRC’s youngest residents.
“I’ve always wanted to take care of people who needed help, especially children,” Olegario explained when asked why she chose a career in nursing. “I enjoy working with the children no matter how challenging the situation. Seeing our residents discharge with positive coping skills and returning to their families with a brighter outlook on the future is most rewarding.”
Olegario cherishes her memories of BRC colleagues and residents. One of her most unforgettable moments came during a hurricane. She and other nurses spent the night in the infirmary, braving severe weather to care for children in the dorms.
“When it was time to pass meds, we packed up each dorm’s meds in tackle boxes. We had paper charting then, so we had to also pack the many hard binders containing medication records,” she shared. “We went out in the harsh wind and pelting rain to each dorm to deliver medications at various times. Our duty was to make sure everyone was safe, and the kids’ needs were met. We were a dedicated staff, and everyone was ok.”
As BRC transitioned in recent years to serving only military-connected children and teens, Olegario’s own military connections enabled her to care for residents with understanding.
“I grew up surrounded by the military. My dad is a retired Senior Chief from the Navy, and my brother was in the Army,” she said. “I can empathize with kids who have a parent deploy for six months at a time, for many years. I understand what it feels like when a parent is always busy with work obligations. Sometimes the call of duty supersedes the role of being a parent.”
Olegario and her husband, with 18 years on active duty so far including a tour in Afghanistan, will take a few weeks to move to San Diego and set up their new home.
“Then, I’ll continue working as an RN in behavioral health,” she said. “And I’ll also continue my world travels and adventures.”
BRC wishes Olegario and her family fair winds and following seas – the traditional Navy farewell for good luck on the journey.