My name is Garett Gravel and I recently completed the Bachelor of Management program through distance education with Athabasca University.
I was born and raised in Ottawa, where after high school I attended Algonquin College and completed a three-year business administration diploma. I graduated with honours and majored in human resources.
I enjoyed my time at college and after graduation was accepted to Carleton University’s Bachelor of International Business program. After a few months at Carleton, I realized I wasn’t happy. With the support of my girlfriend and now wife, Nathalie, I decided to leave the program and enter the work force.
I started working as a delivery/warehouse worker at Alpine Construction Supplies. It’s a small business that sells specialty building products to customers within the city of Ottawa and its surrounding areas.
With my education, I understood how a business should function but I was unfamiliar with building products and the construction industry. I took the time to educate myself on the various products and applications, and applied myself at work.
Three years later when the owner of the business had health problems and stepped away from the day-to-day operations, he promoted me to general manager of the company.
Enter: Athabasca University
It was at this time that I decided continue my education. I was attracted to Athabasca University (AU) for a few reasons. My college courses could be used as transfer credits applied to my AU degree, and AU’s flexibility within its programs meant I was allowed to maintain my part-time student status, as long as I took at least one course per calendar year.
AU’s flexibility also meant that I could take advantage of multiple course extensions that enabled me to complete the courses within my time frame.
Finally, the program itself spoke to me.
ADMN404 – Strategic Management was my favourite course and part of my distance education experience at Athabasca University. I enjoyed how this course made you incorporate everything you have learned from previous courses and apply it to the assignments.
Overall though, I learned that I am stronger than I thought. I also learned that if you break large projects down into smaller tasks, you will eventually complete those large projects. This is a marathon not a sprint. Everyone learns at their own pace, so stay focused on your own progress and ignore what others are doing.
And today, I can proudly now say that I am a General Manager with a Bachelor of Management Degree. I like that my education matches my job title.
“This is a marathon not a sprint. Everyone learns at their own pace, so stay focused on your own progress and ignore what others are doing.”– Garett Gravel
My wife, Nathalie, has been my biggest supporter. We met while I was finishing my final year at college and have been together ever since. We married one month after I started my job at Alpine Construction Supplies. She has encouraged me throughout this journey to be the best version of myself.
Throughout our time together, my wife has suffered from a severe neurological disease. I am her primary caregiver and she continues to remain strong. She inspires and motivates me to do the best I can take one day at a time. Almost two years ago my wife’s health drastically deteriorated and that has caused her to be completely bed-bound (unable to sit up, requires assistance with all basic care needs) and suffering from severe neuropathic pain on a daily basis.
It took me 10 years to complete my degree and I could not have accomplished this without the love and support of my wife, Nathalie, and the flexibility AU gave me. For that, I am truly grateful.
To anyone considering furthering their education, or going through a hard time, please know that anything is possible. Keep believing in yourself and keep working towards your goals. It will be hard at times and you may feel like giving up, but you can achieve your dreams!
One step, one course, at a time.
Do you have a story about how AU transformed your life?
Nobody can tell the story of the transformative power of education like you can. Learn more about this series and how you can write for us, like Garett did, here!