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Transforming Lives: Moving Beyond

Angela Grainger: To build a better life

By: Angela Grainger

Transforming Lives: Moving Beyond 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 AU experience to achieve their greatest successes, all while looking forward to their future educational and personal potential.

Their story is 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) has transformed my life; more than I could’ve ever imagined. I began this journey in 2014, taking part-time courses to improve my Human Resources knowledge, and to better myself for my job. I was working my dream job and making the highest wage that I had ever made. That same year my father fell extremely ill and soon died of cancer. To add insult to injury, the oil industry took a turn for the worse and I was laid off. I was a 40-year-old single mother in a foreign country, without family nearby to support me. No one was hiring, and if they were, it was just barely over minimum wage, unless I had a degree.

I had to decide to try and make ends meet with a low or minimum wage job, or get the degree I needed to earn the wage I had previously made.

Change of directions

I took a leap of faith. Moved to full-time studies and have been working hard towards my goal. My life hasn’t been easy. I have severe anxiety and depression disorder, ADD, and am visually challenged. I have a son that has a rare disease and a daughter that also has ADD and severe anxiety disorder. This year Covid-19 was added to this mix, and I am now homeschooling both kids on top of my own studies. A friend of mine pointed out that AU offers disability services that would help me with my own issues which allowed me to push harder and stay on track.

It hasn’t been easy, but I am so grateful for AU. I am the first person in my family to attend university! My daughter will graduate next year and thanks to AU, I will too.

My story is far from over. I have shown my kids the importance of higher education. My biggest accomplishment will not be a piece of paper saying I have a degree, but the transformation of my mind that once said ‘I couldn’t do something’, into knowing I can. And I am.


Angela Grainger and her kids in South Dakota

AU has supported me through Covid-19, mental and physical disabilities, and has opened so many doors for me. Without the flexibility, Accessibility Services, and other available resources, this wouldn’t be possible. I’m more confident, stronger, smarter and a lot more resilient because of AU.

This journey is far from over. I have so much more to accomplish. I thought that being a middle-aged woman with disabilities would interfere with my success, however, it only made me stronger and wiser. My bachelor’s degree is just a steppingstone to what lies ahead. Maybe someday my future alum will address me as Doctor.

Wherever I go, whatever I do, I know AU will be my vehicle and I’m so grateful for that.

Angela Grainger is a single mother of 2 amazing teenagers and the owner and operator of her small business called Rock Bottom Creations out of Peace River Alberta. She has a passion for rocks and gemstones as well as writing poetry. She is a student with several disabilities and wants to show people that at any age or circumstance, and with the right resources, higher education is attainable. Her goal after attaining her BA is to continue to grow her business, write a few books, and begin her journey towards her MAIS.  

  • December 29, 2020
Guest Blog from:
Angela Grainger