Ten years ago, if you had asked me if I’d ever have a university credential I would have probably scoffed. Today I’m only a couple courses away from my Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree thanks to Athabasca University (AU). I’m a Métis mom, student, and student leader, and AU has been integral to my growth over the past seven years.
When I decided to take the plunge into post-secondary education at 27, I was in the midst of a major life transition. I had just become a single parent and had to close down my at-home business and pursue a job out of my house in order to support myself and my son. Thanks to the ability to study from home, I was able to work while studying to help cover our cost of living while pursuing my degree.
A supportive environment
I was skeptical at first but found pretty quickly that AU could totally help me achieve the high-class education I was looking for. I was thrilled when my at-home science–lab kits for chemistry and physics classes arrive in a tote to my home through the mail—how cool is that!? This experience firmly sealed my confidence in my ability to finish my program.
AU has been there for me the whole way. I’ve dealt with mental illness and learning disabilities for my whole life, which has led to the development of anxiety when pursuing scholastic activities. I was directed to register with the Access to Students with Disabilities office, and this changed my life completely. Thanks to the accommodations provided to students like myself who find great challenges in completing coursework in the typical funded student’s four–month contract period, I have been able to complete classes I would have typically failed in a brick-and-mortar institution.
Prior to my ability to work around my disabilities in this way, I was convinced I would never make it to the end of my program. But guess what? I’m here, and my AU journey has given me confidence to pursue so much more.
“I’m a Métis mom, student, and student leader, and AU has been integral to my growth over the past seven years. ”– Natasha Donahue
More to come
When I’m finished my degree, I plan to use my education to help advocate for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and work in environmental sustainability (hopefully with Indigenous communities), to name just a couple. These topics have been constant passions of mine throughout my post-secondary journey with AU, and the skills I’ve learned throughout my time here will serve me in those pursuits.
Otherwise, I’m definitely a life-long learner, so who knows? Maybe I’ll register for graduate studies in the near future—probably with AU since the flexibility has been a life-changer for me!
Going down this path has been an amazing journey so far, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Natasha Donahue has been studying with Athabasca University since 2013 and has nearly finished her Bachelor of Science degree. She lives in Barrhead, Alta., with her partner, son, and three cats. She has served on the Athabasca University Students’ Union executive and is passionate about progressing solutions for student issues, particularly for under-represented populations