My Rock – AU student Vanessa Surge

Pin It

Athabasca University Canada Online University Digital University Transforming Lives: Learners at AU Chippewas of Mnjikaning Metis Vanessa Surge 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. 


I had been working towards my Athabasca University degree in Governance, Law and Management for about two years part time while I continued to work full time as a law clerk. Although the pay was good, the environment was toxic and full of negative energy and I didn’t feel like I was being fully valued as a human being. I had always hoped to finish my degree so I could start my real career: either in a completely new field or within a similar field but at a management level.

It was at this time, that my boyfriend (Aakash) sensing my unhappiness with my current situation, not only encouraged but fully supported my decision to quit my job, move to a different city to be with him, and begin my full time studies to expedite the completion of my degree.Athabasca University Canada Online University Digital University Transforming Lives: Learners at AU Chippewas of Mnjikaning Metis Vanessa Surge

During this whole process he has been my rock. I would not have been able to succeed had it not been for his emotional (and financial) support. He has taken on all the financial responsibilities of our home while I am studying and off work – he has been the steady emotional support system that I needed to succeed.

At the beginning I questioned my ability to succeed. Full time studies commenced September 1st, 2017 and on September 6th (my birthday), my sister unexpectedly died. Having to deal with the emotional stress of losing my sister unexpectedly under suspicious circumstances, the process of a police investigation, and the turmoil of fighting for custody of her one year old daughter took its toll on me emotionally. I was unable to start school on time and I felt like giving up as I didn’t think I would complete everything. Aakash encouraged me to start my school work and to never give up. He believed that I had it in me to succeed.

I started my courses in November 2017, powered through 12 major written assignments, a number of reading assignments, and completed the courses before the end of my contract date in December. I even managed to gets As and high Bs throughout this ordeal.

The entire experience has also made me consider a career in policing as a detective, so that I can use my knowledge and background to assist others and feel like I have a purpose and am making a contribution to society. I have now turned my attention in my degree to more criminology or psychology based courses. Even in this new career path I can find my boyfriend’s support. He is willing to support me however he can so that I succeed in my career and educational ambitions.

In the end, throughout these months, his support has given me the confidence to continue and let me know that I have the ability to succeed in whatever I do, whether it be academics or in life, and I love him for it.


My name is Vanessa Surge. I am a Metis and my family is First Nations with Chippewas of Mnjikaning in Orillia, Ontario. I initially started my post secondary education at University of Toronto studying near and middle eastern civilization with a focus on Egyptology, but decided it wasn’t a profitable career so I went back to college to become a law clerk. I graduated in 2013 and worked for 4 1/2 years as a corporate and litigation law clerk at a law firm in Toronto’s financial district. It was while I was working here that I decided to complete my Bachelor of Professional Arts – Governance, Law and Management degree at Athabasca University and strive for more. I now reside in Brampton with my boyfriend, our French bulldog and two cats. When I’m not studying, I am working out and weight lifting, cooking, or baking.