The Hub A love for education and a love for AU

A love for education and a love for AU

“Without education, I’m not quite sure what my life would look like,” says Joy Romero.

“In my family I was that first generation that went to university. I came from a very modest background. Education is really what opened all the doors for me in my life and allowed me to provide for my family.”

Romero is an engineer and the vice-president of technology development at Canadian Natural Resources Limited. She also graduated from Athabasca University in 2006 with a Master of Business Administration. Even though her free time is rare, she’s never lost sight of her love for education and has always found time for education-related volunteer work. She’s served as a school trustee, for example, and participated in programs that help high school students transition to university.

“[I did a lot of work around] trying to remove barriers and getting people involved in education, which of course is what Athabasca University is all about,” she says. So when she was asked to join the board of AU in 2002, she couldn’t resist the opportunity. Her final years on the board (2006-2009) were spent as the chair, a position she likely earned “because I didn’t sit down,” she says with a laugh.

Joy Romero

“[I did a lot of work around] trying to remove barriers and getting people involved in education, which of course is what Athabasca University is all about,” she says. So when she was asked to join the board of AU in 2002, she couldn’t resist the opportunity. Her final years on the board (2006-2009) were spent as the chair, a position she likely earned “because I didn’t sit down,” she says with a laugh.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her family, who sacrificed some of their time with Romero as she attended to her board duties. “My husband Diego also shares my conviction towards education,” she says. “And we also believe in giving back. You receive a lot in your younger years, and then you reach a point where it’s your turn to give back.”

“It’s not just my husband and I,” she continues. “Our kids also respect that need to give back to community. They have a healthy respect for education and what AU stands for, so our whole family’s always been really comfortable with our commitment to AU.”

At one point, Romero, her daughter and her dad, who was in his 80s at the time, were all taking AU courses for vastly different reasons. Her dad was studying civilizations for personal interest. Her daughter was a visiting student from the University of Calgary taking AU courses to round out her degree. And Romero was working on her MBA, a long-time goal of hers that she didn’t muster the courage to pursue until she attended an AU convocation. “I had no intention of doing my MBA any time soon, because I thought, I can’t manage it, I don’t have the time,” she says. “But watching people convocate, and listening to their stories of what they overcame to graduate — I thought, if they can do it, I can do it … It was actually watching convocation that gave me the confidence to do my MBA. AU’s convocation is such an inspiring thing.”

The Romeros have created a bursary for MBA students in financial need. They’ve also contributed funds to scholarships for graduate students and are supporting the university with other long-term financial contributions. “It’s important to always have some of component of your life that’s giving back,” says Romero. “I love education and what it does for people, and I really love how AU provides people with more options in terms of ways to learn. Giving to the university and serving on its board has been very rewarding for me.”

Filed Under:
Published:
  • May 1, 2012