Transforming Lives: Moving Beyond is a testimonial series written by 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
Fulfilling a promise to my 18-year-old self was made possible with AU.
When I turned 16, I was attending high school, and while selecting courses for the next school year found out that my parents had discussed me dropping out of school to work as a housecleaner. Thankfully, my mom believed that I should earn my high school degree and that my future need not be limited.
Determined to study
I had always dreamed of studying history and earning a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, so I filled–in applications to universities and applied for student loans. I was ineligible for student loans from because my family supported private Christian schools. I had always worked on tobacco farms so I had managed to save most of my earnings, but it wasn’t enough for a degree. I decided to get a two-year diploma from a community college and promised myself that I would earn that BA in history!
Fast forward to the late 1980s. I’d moved to Edmonton and was working full time and registered at AU to earn that degree! Then life threw me a series of curveballs: health issues stopped me in my tracks. Then I met and married my husband, and we had a couple of children. Between having to work part-time due to health reasons, and then deciding to stay home for a few years with the littles, there was no money to pay for courses. I didn’t forget my promise, but it definitely got put on the back burner.
Our children were in high school and often heard my story. They both pursued post-secondary education and earned degrees. I began working full-time and I decided that I should contact AU to see what would be involved in earning a BA in history. It soon became clear that it was doable—and now I could afford it! With my husband and children’s encouragement I got to work on one course; or sometimes two courses, at a time!!
The push to finish
Thankfully, I love learning. There were times when I wanted to quit; in fact, with three courses to go I almost did. A close friend had such an incredulous reaction when I suggested quitting. My argument that it was ridiculous for a woman in her late 50s to be bothering with a BA, which I felt had no real value with regards to my career was pushed aside. It brought me back to how devastated I was reading the rejection letter from Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) that ended the dream of earning a BA back in 1979.
So, I continued. I wrote my final exam and got my marks within a week. I was done. It was hard to imagine, so I sent an email to Program Advising to make sure I had completed the courses needed. It was so hard to believe, I didn’t tell my husband or children for a couple of days and when I did, they were so happy for me (and themselves, I am sure they were sick of me always studying and reading, even on vacation)! I let the news sink–in, sent in an application to graduate, and recently told my co-workers. They are also excited for me. My parents are so proud: they’re telling everyone in my hometown about it. I could not have kept my promise to myself without AU, and for that I am forever thankful.
Bonita Bjornson was born and raised in south-west Ontario. She attended Strathroy District Collegiate Institute and Fanshawe College. Upon graduation with a Library Technician Diploma, she headed west to Edmonton. She has worked in academic libraries, with the exception of a six year stint when she worked from home raising her two children, since 1982! She’s in her 22nd year as Senior Library Technician at The King’s University, and was recently certified as an archivist. She also recently finished a BA from AU, and is looking forward to having more free time for playing her ukulele around campfires, and hanging out with her oft-neglected friends!