My name is Celeste Brown. I am 25 years old, born and raised in Edmonton, AB, and I am in my final year of my undergraduate studies. By the end of 2019 I will be the proud owner of a Bachelor of Arts degree. I am a psychology major and my ambition is to put my background to good use when I pursue a JB at the University of Alberta. I want to be a crown prosecutor by the time I’m 35.
When I graduated high school, I had no drive to attend post-secondary education. I wanted to kick the dirt of my hometown off my boots and explore this beautiful province. I left Edmonton to work in Jasper for a couple of years and I loved the experience. But when the cost of living, and the reality of the temporary nature of my time in Jasper, became too much to handle, I came back to Edmonton to dirty my boots once more. I decided soon after that I wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree. While in the process of applying for post-secondary I discovered I was pregnant. I was only 20 and terrified. I had to put aside my application and focus on nurturing new life.
After a year at home with a new baby, I decided it was time to try to get into university again. I was 22. My mom told me about Athabasca University and assured me that it was just as legitimate as any university in the city and would accommodate the demands of parenting and my job. Within a month I was enrolled and excited to move forward.
The relationship with my partner at the time didn’t last long after that. He was from Australia and he went back home. So, I was left here with a baby, a list of assignments as long as my arm, a job, and a volunteer position at the Cross Cancer Institute. I was overwhelmed, and grateful. If it wasn’t for Athabasca University, I would have had to drop out. Because the flexibility of distance learning provided me with time to manage a household, take my son on so many great adventures, navigate the murky waters of toddlerdom and preschoolery, work on a part-time basis and continue volunteering (for a time, eventually they were no longer willing to accommodate my schedule for final exams). I was able to mature into an unstoppable, independent superwoman of a human being. I can’t deny there have been speed bumps along the way, but I learned lessons from every hiccup.
During my time at Athabasca I have learned so much about psychology, sociology, criminal justice, literature and even education. But most of all I learned about myself, my dreams, and my potential. I’ve become a critical thinker, a master research paper writer, a great single mother, a time–managing wizard, and a person that I am so proud to be. Athabasca University gave me the gift of working towards a better life for myself and my little boy without having to sacrifice the experience of raising my son. I have learned that I will always strive to be better. I won’t stop here. I will pursue more education, more earning potential, more opportunities to improve myself and I will never quit because if I made it this far, I can go anywhere.