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Transforming Lives: Learners at AU


By: Elisabeth Van Der Wilt

Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series, written by AU students and alum, who want to acknowledge the people in their lives who have helped to mold and transform their AU experience and achieve their greatest successes.

Their gratitude toward these integral individuals is worth shouting from the rooftops! We, too, thank these most important people for allowing the AU authors to achieve their educational goals. Read the other Transforming Lives: Learners at AU testimonials. Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.


Elisabeth Van Der Wilt and her family

It’s actually a really tricky, and difficult question to answer. Some people have been given the gift of knowing what they want to be when they are young. How many times have I changed my career path is a question that can be answered only after a long Family Day, family, Elisabeth van der Wilt, Athabasca University, #AthaU, #AthabascaU, #AthabascaUniversity, University, Alberta, Ontario, Niagara Region, Business Management, Faculty of Business, story. Of the many choices I considered at one time or another: vet, nun, chef, teacher, and, lastly, a more final revelation was that I liked business. I have volunteered for two to three years at a second-hand shop. I pretty much declared to myself I would like to work there. Most of the managers were amazing and just to do that would be great.

I didn’t know this for a long time. It wasn’t a dream that just came when I was young and I declared this is what I wanted to be. It has shuffled a lot. And to be totally honest, I can’t tell you if that is still the path I want to be on.

We are family

But who has been there through everything? My family. I was born the eldest of my family to my one sister and two brothers. My mother and father and I have the privilege to live with my grandmother as well. I was in a school environment until I was in grade 3. I was bullied, and it made it difficult for me until my mother discovered homeschooling. She has told me many times that she wondered (and worried) if this was the right thing to do. She had only a high school degree after she took over the family farm when her father passed away. She was only 18-years-old.

My dad was a teacher and was gone most of the time. So, my mother homeschooled my sister and I — my two brothers followed. Being homeschooled allowed me to love myself for who I was, being homeschooled allowed me to pursue my dreams and become the person I am. If my mother and father did not help me with my schooling and education, I don’t know if I would be at Athabasca University.

All day, every day

AU allows me to stay home with my family and be with them 24/7. It allows me the happiness and joy it brings me to volunteer at the second-hand store I love, and run a group for homeschoolers where I teach.

I decided that management was something I wanted to — my parents helped me start. And they have helped me through my study life and have allowed me to live rent free with them. Meaning I don’t have to get a job and I can devote all my time to my studies.

My family has been my rock, which I have leaned on so many times. And even though it’s only my first year of working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, I am excited for quite a few more years here at Athabasca University with my family by my side.

I’m Lisa but my records all state I am Elisabeth carrying on my mother and grandmother’s name. I take family and life seriously. I enjoy the important things. I also think children are amazing and like to spend a lot of time with them. I like to write and actually have a book published. I try a little bit of everything. If I put something in my head, I normally put 100 per cent into what the intended goal is. This is my first year at Athabasca University I am currently in the Bachelor of Management program. I live in Ontario, Canada, in one of the smaller towns in South Niagara Region.

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  • April 13, 2018
Guest Blog from:
Elisabeth Van Der Wilt