Transforming Lives: Learners at AU 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 lives through Athabasca University; all while looking forward to their future educational and personal potential.
Their stories are worth shouting from the rooftops! Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.
My name is Jessi Johnson, a small-town Metis, born-and-raised in the Northwest Territories (NWT). I am a mother of two beautiful girls.
I initially started my education in the NWT achieving a Business Administration Diploma through Aurora College. After graduating, I started employment at an entry-level office position which was fantastic. I quickly learned that opportunities for internal promotion would require me to educate myself further. After researching my options, I learned that Athabasca University (AU) has a block transfer agreement with Aurora College, which made the transition towards my degree seamless and easy. Without this option, I would have had to take additional courses through another institution that did not recognize what I had already accomplished. Additional courses would have prolonged my educational journey and caused financial strain.
In addition to the enticing block transfer, AU could offer me my entire degree through distance learning. This flexibility allowed me to attend studies without moving my family out of the province. It also allowed me to maintain full-time employment while attending classes since I had the freedom to complete assignments in the evening. Their distance offering also prevented class disruption, which was a huge benefit when COVID-19 unfortunately impacted us.
Since I was already attending virtually, I was not hit with the stress and constrain of those attending in-person studies, which was abruptly halted. As a mother of two school-aged children, and a spouse who worked shift-work two-to-three weeks at a time, it can be quite rushed and hectic getting everyone where they need to be.
Athabasca’s distance learning option allowed me to worry about one less thing—no commutes to school, no hallway navigations to get to the next class, and no sprints to get to class before the door was shut which would disrupt other classmates.
Unfortunately, another positive of distance learning is that the likelihood of bullying because of my ethnicity is essentially non-existent. It is not unknown that Aboriginals have horrible stereotypes. Distance learning at AU allows us to study without the risk of being bullied because of our ethnicity.
Lastly, learning at a smaller institution for my diploma created closer relationships with our instructors. AU’s distance learning continued to provide the one-on-one assistance I was used to, making me feel like a valued student and not just another number in a seat or fighting to get help in a large classroom setting. If I needed help—I received excellent and almost immediate service, which kept my studies on time and assignments meeting deadlines.
“My daughter and I would often sit at the dinner table with our books spread about while studying together. I want her to see that if she puts her mind to it, she can accomplish whatever she wants to do regardless of her ethnicity, and that age doesn't matter when furthering education. ”– Jessi Johnson
In the future, I hope to continue chasing opportunities that advance me within my career. I will continue my hard work with my future studies and apply what I have learned at Athabasca University every day within my employment. This dedication will continue to propel me forward on my journey towards higher education that will open doors of promotional opportunities within my workplace or opportunities that present themselves within the NWT.
My daughter and I would often sit at the dinner table with our books spread about while studying together. I want her to see that if she puts her mind to it, she can accomplish whatever she wants to do regardless of her ethnicity, and that age doesn’t matter when furthering education. While it does take some juggling, I AM proof that it is possible if you set your mind to it. I feel that my dedication and determination towards my future educational goals will positively impact my daughters’ future. I hope that more institutions start offering as many educational opportunities for all lifelong learners as Athabasca University has for me.