Transforming Lives: Moving Beyond is a testimonial series written by Athabasca University (AU) students and alumni who want to acknowledge how AU has helped shape their lives.
It’s a space for those who want to thank the people who have helped to support and transform their AU experience to achieve their greatest successes; all while looking forward to their future educational and personal potential.
Their story is worth shouting from the rooftops! Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.
More than board books
One day I was at the public library with our three small children, aged one, two, and three, and decided that I wanted to read something more challenging than a board book again. My husband encouraged me to pursue further post-secondary education, but it was important to both of us that I have the flexibility to stay at home with our children when they were young. AU gave me that flexibility.
For almost four years I studied continually, taking three courses every semester and fitting my schedule around the needs of my young family. As I neared the completion of my program with only one semester left, I applied to another university’s teacher’s certificate program. I had been warned that it was very unlikely that I would get in on my first try though, so I applied early to get this attempt out of the way. However, I was accepted. So, on my youngest child’s first day of kindergarten, I left the house to go to school for the first time too. AU happily paused my Bachelor of Arts program, so that I could complete this other program.
Becoming a teacher
Eight months later I applied for teaching positions, fully expecting to be hired as a substitute teacher for the first few years. During this time I planned to resume my Bachelor of Arts program and complete the final semester. However, to our delight, I was offered a teaching position in a rural community for the upcoming school year. We packed up our family and relocated. A few months later, I completed my Bachelor of Arts from AU while teaching full time in a remote location. Without the flexibility distance learning afforded me, I would not have been able to complete my degree at that time.
“A few months later, I completed my Bachelor of Arts from AU while teaching full time in a remote location. Without the flexibility distance learning afforded me, I would not have been able to complete my degree at that time.”
Within a few years I returned to AU, this time to complete a master’s degree specializing in distance education while continuing to teach full-time. Completing a graduate degree blessed my family financially, but recently in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, all elementary, middle, and high schools have made the abrupt switch to online learning. I have found the skills I developed at AU have enabled me to adapt quickly and to help others during this difficult transition.
One of the most beautiful things about my AU experience is that our children witnessed first-hand the importance of pursuing an education and the work that it requires. Now seventeen years since my AU journey began, all three of our children are pursuing post-secondary education… one at AU.
My personal journey landed me here at AU, but it certainly doesn’t stop now. My future is uncertain in these difficult times but I am not worried. Whether in person or via distance, I will always be teaching and helping others learn. And I have AU to thank for helping me get where I am.