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Transforming Lives: Learners at AU

Starr Sinclair: freedom in education

By: Starr Sinclair

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.

Athabasca University (AU) allowed me the freedom to take control of my life back! When COVID19 shut down our country in 2020, I was in a career slump. My job in the oilfield support sector was gone and my old employers showed me that all my years with them amounted to nothing when it came down to it. I was jobless with no leads in the industry I had been in.

With a teenager and two toddlers to take care of on one income, things were tight. My husband ended up getting laid off from his job as well in the following months. Things got even tighter. Finding a job was impossible and finding childcare was even more difficult.

Eventually, I began to look at my situation in a different light. Perhaps staying home with my kids was not such a bad idea. My teenager needed me to help with her homeschooling and my little ones would be safest kept at home with me out of reach of COVID19. So, I began to look for ways to make that happen.

I could run a day home, I thought, and care for other’s children as well as mine. That was just not a profitable idea in this economy however and my small home is not ideal for a day home set up. Plus, I would be opening children to possible sources of COVID-19 by welcoming others into our safe space.

Trying to find a balance

I knew that eventually, I would want to return to the workforce but that would likely require education. I started looking into the local college to see what courses they offered and settled on a legal assistant. I applied and was accepted. Something was not right though. Just as I was coming to the realization that I was not going to find a reliable sitter or day home for my children in the immediate future.

Next, classes were being moved to online learning and the higher education experience I wanted was slipping away. I knew that I had little interest in being a legal assistant and was only settling because that was what was available closest to me.

After some soul searching, I decided to pull out of my local college. I still desperately wanted to pursue higher education, but I wanted to do it on a platform that was made for online delivery, so there was no uncertainty about whether I would need childcare. I wanted something that would allow me to stay home and raise my children and attain the level of education I wanted to allow me to reenter the workforce in a few years. It seemed like such a tall order.

Can one have their cake and eat it too? It felt at times that I would have to choose between being a mother and being a provider. Then I found Athabasca University. AU was exactly what I was looking for. I could take my classes online and stay home with my family until I was ready and equipped to re-enter the workforce.

Welcome change

Not only that, but the degrees offered blew my local college away. I found it hard to decide which one to pursue. Which was a welcome change from the previous year. I eventually chose a Bachelor of Science route. I am so excited to learn something that actually interests me and will help me to achieve my career goals in the future. The best part is that I can be a stayathome mom while I do it.

Starr Sinclair is a mother of three children. After an unexpected end to a decade-long career in the oilfield support sector, she decided to return to school in her late thirties to pursue an education that would support her future career goals, as well as her current role of being a great stay-at-home mom. In Athabasca University she saw the perfect opportunity to balance her education and her home life, leading to a future she once thought was just a pipe dream.

  • July 9, 2021
Guest Blog from:
Starr Sinclair