Sue Boman: Living with purpose
It has been just over thirteen years since I graduated from Athabasca University (AU). At the time, I thought that graduation was a final culmination, but upon reflection, I have realized that my time with AU was more of a stepping stone in a journey of life long learning.
I enjoyed my few short years of study in the Master of Arts—Integrated Studies (MAIS) program. I followed a path on which I developed a new understanding of myself. I met other distance students who were pursuing their own educational goals. I became immersed in study, written assignments, and the sharing of ideals and philosophies. For me, the online experience became more intimate than in any face-to-face learning environment.
My name is Sue Boman, and I have been legally blind for almost half of my lifetime. When I began with AU, I needed to learn a new audible screen-reading program on my computer. Because I couldn’t see to read print, I needed to contact sighted readers to record my textbooks for me. I needed to advocate for myself as a partially sighted student. I needed to relearn how to schedule my time so that it didn’t conflict with my other home and community responsibilities. These lessons have stayed with me beyond the retention of the content of the various course work of the MAIS program.
So, what have I done since graduation? I have written another book, Out of Sight. In the course of writing, I was privileged to interview some extraordinary people who had accomplished daring athletic feats in spite of their vision loss. I planned and completed a series of walks across Canada. The walks aimed to bring awareness of the significance of my white cane, but in the process, I was again privileged to meet other white cane users and hear of their struggles, challenges, and accomplishments. I continue to facilitate a local support group for people who are blind or partially sighted. I write regularly on a blog called White Cane Connections about issues connected to vision loss.
So, those are the big items, but the reality of life is really in the day-to-day living. Mostly, I strive to be an inspiration and encouragement to my family. They are the ones who have supported me through my journey of vision loss. They are the ones who encouraged me in the pursuit of formal education. It is their support that has given me the confidence to approach the challenges of living with partial sight. I want to live up to their expectations. Most importantly, I want to inspire them as they encounter their own life challenges.
My studies with AU helped me formulate my personal goals and find my place in my community, and especially in the community of people who are blind or partially sighted. These days, I try to live each day with purpose.
Athabasca University was a significant part of my journey. The online course work was, at times, difficult and frustrating, but the completion of the program and graduation day gave me a strong sense of accomplishment.