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.
My journey to Athabasca University would not have happened if it hadn’t been for my husband, Benton.
I saw him at a lumber mill (how very Canadian, eh?), and he didn’t notice me at first. He was a forklift driver and I was smitten. Through mutual friends, we finally met, and within a few months we were dating.
Around the same time, I was choosing what post-secondary institution I wanted to attend. I had a number of interests and didn’t know for sure what I wanted to pursue. I was torn between theatre, journalism, and animal care.
Benton was the one who took me to tour a few local campuses. After working the night shift, he would pack up the car and that would be our date – driving around in search of the perfect college.
He encouraged me to choose an institution and program that spoke to me, and I eventually settled on Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario. Back then, I typically spent my evenings watching legendary CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge host The National. That remarkable news influence turned out to be the catalyst for my choosing journalism as my college major.
North Bay was the perfect distance away from home — far enough away where I could focus on my studies, but close enough in case I got homesick.
Not only did my husband (then-boyfriend) — encourage me to attend college, he quit his long-time job and headed to North Bay with me. We got a cozy little apartment and he found himself a job as a labourer. With my studies and his low income, we didn’t end up doing much on our time off, but we spent a lot of time exploring our new city.
But, around halfway through our adventure, life threw us a new and frightening challenge. Benton developed a disabling eye condition. The outdoorsy man who loved hunting and fishing went from having 20/20 vision to having virtually no sight.
I had decided that I would stop attending Canadore and that we would move back home. But he wouldn’t have any of it. He convinced me that since I had already invested more than a year into the program, I might as well continue. He moved back to his parent’s home while I found a room, with a classmate, to continue my studies.
Moving out west
Flash forward to 2009, when I took my first full-time job after graduating college. It was in British Columbia, and Benton had encouraged me to take it. Before I set off on my adventure, he proposed. With only one suitcase, I moved west, and spent a year and a half working as a journalist.
I could tell Benton was proud.
With a wedding to prep for and homesickness setting in, I was lucky enough to find a journalism job back home. I moved back, we married, and we now have two beautiful boys.
My chance for a degree
I was always interested in obtaining my university degree, and I would be the first in my family to go to university. Since Canadore had an articulation agreement with Athabasca, I tossed around the idea of taking the online education courses. Since I am the main breadwinner in the house, I knew I couldn’t take classes at a brick-and-mortar school. So, when I found out that AU offers part-time online learning, I knew this would be my chance to get my university degree.
My goal is to get into a communications field that enables me to work for a cause — at a children’s hospital, for example. And, not only will earning a degree bump up my earning potential to support my family, it will also expand my career opportunities.
Once again, Benton was behind me, encouraging me to take the leap. I’m now preparing to take my second university course at AU this month. I know I would not be where I am today without the moral support of my strong husband. Although he didn’t have the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education, he continues to support me in my goals. He looks after our young boys and keeps the house quiet when I am writing assignments or taking tests.
I couldn’t do this without him.
Christine Hudder is a mom of two, living in Quadeville, Ontario. When she’s not completing her Athabasca University studies in the Bachelor of Professional arts in Communication Studies, she’s writing for the local newspaper and volunteering with Scouts Canada.