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.
Meet Robin Bleich
The continuous pursuit of education begins and ends with courage, hope, and strength. Success relies on these pieces, success expects as much commitment from you, as it expects from the ones you love. Life is not easy, it is scary, turbulent, and unpredictable, but if you have a stable foundation of courage, hope, and strength, you will succeed.
Meet six-year-old Eily. Eily is my courage. She is the reason I face my fears and continue to pursue my education. Her love is unconditional, with no strings attached. Motherhood does not discriminate and it’s a full-time commitment. Eily understands the pressure of my pursuit for education and her encouragement is demonstrated through her simple affection.
However, there are moments of defeat and, sometimes, moving forward gets the best of me. During these challenging times, Eily will crawl on the couch beside me and ask “Mama, I want to learn too. Read to me.” I find the courage she provides me, and I open my textbook and begin reading the methodology of police practices or explain how organizational behaviour influences culture. She may not care to fully understand the intricacies of my studies, but she does care that I move forward and “keep going.” When a sweet little face looks up to you with admiration, you summon that courage and be the role-model she expects you to be.
Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for certain things to happen. My hope is my sisters’ hope; the hope of my success. Meet Danielle, 20, and Zayna, 35; they are my sisters and my best-friends. One of the hardest periods of my life involved losing my eldest sister unexpectedly, getting divorced and becoming a single mother, and renovating a new home, in strange new city – all within three weeks of each other.
Athabasca University kept me grounded during this time, but my sisters gave me hope. They held me close and cried the same tears I cried; they wept the same song of pain, and reminded me of all the reasons to stay in school; one of them even moved in to help me care for Eily as I cared for her. I went from one child to two – now courage emanates from us both.
My sisters were there for me, my sisters were there for my daughter; they continue to love me hard. As a human, emotions during times of grievance can incapacitate the very effort of moving ahead. It can stop you from dreaming, believing, and hoping. Yet these ladies did not allow me to do that – they instilled a new sense of hope; ardent hope that radiates from hearts made of pure love.
Athabasca University kept me grounded during this time, but my sisters gave me hope. They held me close and cried the same tears I cried; they wept the same song of pain, and reminded me of all the reasons to stay in school.
Meet Tim. My warmth, my rock, my chef, my patience, my tea-maker, my loudest cheerleader, and my love. I am his open book. And while students around the world can agree that university requires lots of time and attention, Athabasca University is my mistress. There are weeks where school takes precedence and absorbs much of my free-time and “love language” to write the perfect paper, thread, or presentation. Tim never complains about the wonky time commitments, instead he’ll prepare dinner in advance; start a fire in the wood stove, and set up my computer for a long night of academic affairs. Like Eily, he entertains my audible research sermons, over, and over, and over. It is men like Tim that make my pursuit for education possible. He gives me the strength to keep going on those long lonely nights of reading.
Athabasca University Family
As a current student, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside President Dr. Neil Fassina, AU professional staff, and faculty members. I have been a recipient of three university awards, including the 2017 Athabasca University Future Alumni award. Most significantly, the AU Alumni Awards Team assisted me with the grievance and acceptance of my sister’s death and, moreover, with the coordination of AU’s Student Awards department, helped to develop my vision of a bursary dedicated to my late sister and her surviving son, my nephew, Sunny. I am now a five-year sponsor of the Sunny Bleich Award. Through this bursary, and by virtue of AU’s support, I have finally found my closure: AU is a university that cares; a university that I am proud to call ‘family.’
Robin Bleich is native to the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada. She’s currently enrolled in AU’s Bachelor of Professional Arts (BPA) program, majoring in Criminal Justice. She’s a mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend to many.