Commanding his next chapter

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Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series, written by AU students and alum, who want to acknowledge the people in their lives who have helped to mold and transform their AU experience and achieve their greatest successes. Their gratitude toward these integral individuals is worth shouting from the rooftops! We, too, thank these most important people for allowing the AU authors to achieve their educational goals. Read the other Transforming Lives: Learners at AU testimonials. Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it. 


An extra credit

It started as an idea to get extra credit at work and to expand my knowledge and writing skills. As a non-commissioned member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, I knew that taking university-level courses was considered an excellent form of professional development. In the beginning it was just my wife and I — pre-marriage, no kids, and no excuses. I was also being pushed by my mother and father to pursueBrad Arsenault, Military, Royal Canadian Air Force, Commanding, Commander, Athabasca University, AU, #AthabascaU, Prince Edward Island, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Online Education, Online Studies, Online University, University, Distance Education, post-secondary education. My dad spent 40-plus years in the same Air Force and he has been my mentor throughout my entire life; he knew where a degree could take me. So, off I went, at first, taking general studies while looking for something that would strike a chord and that I could become passionate about. That’s when I discovered the Bachelor of Management program at Athabasca University.

I have always been moderately interested in the public- and private business world, stock markets, and the big picture of how the economy works in Canada and the United States. The Bachelor of Management degree seemed like the perfect balance of all things business. At about the same time, and over the course of a few years, I had gotten married, had two children, and applied twice to a program within the military to become a commissioned officer. That program is highly competitive, and I was rejected both times. I was at my lowest point in an otherwise excellent career. Thoughts of self-doubt crept in, and the idea of ‘settling’ where I was, and making the best of it, seemed to be my fate. Those who knew me well, however, knew that I am not capable of such defeat — and that, given specific goals, either by others, or by myself, I do my best to achieve them.

Through the faith of my wife and my parents, I made a final attempt and, with some very focused and dedicated work, I was selected for the program. This would involve me becoming a full-time AU student, taking five courses per semester, to complete my degree as quickly as possible.

Support network

And here we are. The encouragement and sacrifice my wife makes daily, as a military spouse, cannot be understated; and to ask her to do even more — now that we have kids — and when I have exams and assignments, goes beyond any reasonable way I can express my gratitude, in writing. I have found a new interest in Corporate Finance. It is, by far, the most difficult academic coursework I have ever done, up to this point (which has been frustrating but satisfying, at the same time). I have also quite enjoyed the Philosophy courses as I appreciate a healthy debate involving people and their behaviours Brad Arsenault, Military, Royal Canadian Air Force, Commanding, Commander, Athabasca University, AU, #AthabascaU, Prince Edward Island, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Online Education, Online Studies, Online University, University, Distance Education, unethically or morally difficult situations.

Commanding his future

As I progress through my studies, my mom and dad check in on me regularly from Prince Edward Island (where they retired) for updates on what courses I am taking, and how my grades are. I feel a bit like I’m back in grade school — nervous and proud — when I tell them about a grade on an assignment or an exam. They both emphasize their pride in this endeavour and encourage me along every step of the way. A special thank-you go to my five-year-old daughter, Nora, and my son, Alexander, who, at the time of this writing is, three. They often see me in front of my computer, pounding away on the keyboard, or vigorously writing in a notebook. They inspire me daily and I, in turn, see that I am inspiring them. As my daughter often tells me: “I can’t wait to be in Grade One, Daddy — so I can do homework with you!”

There is no doubt that I would not be able to succeed without the unending support of my family. I love you all, dearly.


Brad Aresenault was born in Winnipeg and, on account of his father’s career in the Air Force, has resided all over Canada, from Chilliwack, B.C. to Goose Bay, Labrador, and a few other places in between. Eventually, he ended up back in Winnipeg, and then joined the military, himself. In 2001, he was posted to North Bay, Ont., where he became an Aerospace Control Operator (with primary work in air surveillance) in support of the Canadian NORAD mission and where, after further geographically diverse postings, he and his wife, Justine, and their two children, Nora, and Alexander, currently live. Brad is the head coach of the Steve Nash Basketball Program, and is also coaching the North Bay Military men’s basketball team. Last summer, Brad was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. After completion of his Athabasca University degree, he will be employed as a Logistics Officer.