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
I came across my AU MBA application essay the other day and had to chuckle at how far I’ve come since writing it in 2006. At the time, I was recently divorced, and the sole-support parent to three children under the age of 10.
I had looked into the weekend MBA program at my local university; however, my employer wasn’t flexible enough to allow me to attend. So, I applied to Athabasca and started the MBA program in September of 2007.
It wasn’t easy. I worked full-time, taught part-time at the local college, and squeezed in study time after my kids went to bed. I took summers off from classes and occasionally had to defer courses until I could scrape together enough money for tuition. It took me four and a half years of hard work, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Had it not been for AUs supportive staff, encouraging professors, and overall flexibility, there’s no way I would have been able to complete my MBA.
“It took me four and a half years of hard work, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Had it not been for AUs supportive staff, encouraging professors, and overall flexibility, there’s no way I would have been able to complete my MBA.”– Samantha Russell, MBA
Since graduating in 2012, I’ve been able to achieve the goals that I identified in my initial application essay—broadening my knowledge, providing mentorship to young professionals, advancing to the next level in my career, and becoming a member of the executive team by the time I was thirty-four (a year earlier than I had originally planned).
I’ve gained invaluable research, writing, and analysis skills applicable to any work environment. I’ve used my learnings from New Venture Development to start my own small businesses. I’ve made connections with people that will hopefully last a lifetime. But most importantly, I’ve gained the confidence to know that no matter what life throws at me, I have a solid business background to rely on.
My personal journey landed me here, at AU, but it certainly doesn’t stop now. My future is bright with possibilities and includes having the freedom to travel, work when and where I want, and pursue my passions—like politics, animal rescue, furniture upcycling, and writing.
Thanks, Athabasca University, for providing programs that allow individuals (who might not otherwise be able) to access quality education with the flexibility to maintain work, family, and personal commitments. I’m excited to share that I’ll be watching my (now 22-year old) daughter walk across the AU stage when she graduates next year.
Here’s to the next 50 years of greatness!
Samantha Russell is a strategic HR and operations professional with a passion for continuous learning, community improvements, and social justice. She is also a small business owner, furniture artist, animal rescuer, avid DIYer, freelance editor, business writer, enthusiastic volunteer, pizza connoisseur, and aspiring polymath. She lives in Lakeshore, Ontario, with her adult children, fur babies, and husband, Matthew.