How do you pay for a dream?
As a 10-year-old growing up in Vietnam, Nghiem Dang set his sights on working in health care so he could help his country’s sick and poor.
His family moved to Canada in 1979, and now he’s looking forward to the day when he retires, moves to Asia and brings his dream to life — something he wouldn’t have envisioned if he hadn’t attended Athabasca University.
“Because of my work and home commitments, I could never have gone back to school without distance education,” explains Dang, who graduated with his Master of Nursing (Advanced Nurse Practitioner) degree in 2012 and currently works as a nurse at the Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario.
“While the story is uniquely his, the sentiment is not. Most AU alumni can readily find the words to finish a sentence that starts with “AU made it possible for me to….” and because they appreciate the impact of the university on their lives, they’ve been inspired to donate to AU.
“Dang says he can’t thank AU enough for the “wonderful opportunity” to continue his education. He wants others to have the same opportunity, so he donates monthly to student awards through the Faculty of Health Disciplines Caring for the Future campaign (part of the university-wide Open Our World campaign).
“I got so much out of my learning with AU”
“Christina Schmolke also donates monthly and sees it as a “micro-financing” investment in her future peers. She graduated from the Master of Counselling (Counselling Psychology) program in 2009, a milestone on her journey to becoming a registered psychologist.
“Appreciating the financial struggles of students, especially mature students and those with families, Schmolke sees her donation as a way to ease their financial stress and make it possible for them to follow their career trajectory.
“Social justice is a guiding value in my life,” she says. “If all alumni give a small amount, the total (available for scholarships) can be substantial — and someone who has the aptitude, but not necessarily the financial resources, will have a chance to go to AU.”
“I got so much out of my learning with AU,” adds Renée Anderson, a 2008 graduate of the Master of Nursing (Generalist) program and a respected nursing lecturer at Thompson Rivers University who received two awards for teaching excellence in 2012. “The level of learning I was exposed to has made me a better teacher…. It’s hard to describe, but I’m not the same person I was when I start-ed at AU. My classmates and I are different teachers and nurses now because we think differently.”
“The quality of her AU experience made it easy for her to give. “I got way more out of my education than I ever thought possible. Giving back is just the right thing to do.
“Nghiem Dang agrees wholeheartedly. “My donation is very little compared to what AU has given me. Without AU, I couldn’t fulfill my dreams. I feel an obligation and a responsibility to give something back, so AU can help other students.“AU has no need to thank me for what I give. I thank AU.”