The Hub The future is wide open now

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.

Journey to AU

Having been raised by a true old-school father who was nearly 50 years old when I was born, it should come as no surprise that there was no incentive (and admittedly, no money) after I graduated high school to go on to university. Girls don’t do that. In 2011, I left a bad marriage, and I left my farm and home in Saskatchewan, landing in Alberta. The next year was tumultuous and stressful, as I learned to adapt to my new reality.

By the late summer of 2012, I had an epiphany. I knew that even though I was gainfully employed, settled in my new routine, and was in the process of making the adjustment from raising commercial sheep to registered purebred sheep, what was missing from my life was an education. I had always been an honours student, I should have gone to university, and now here I was at 46 years of age, finding myself in a situation where I could do it.

The author posing with a purebred sheep

Making the choice for work and school

I knew I had to do it by distance education because that was really my only option. I was in the process of building a phenomenal sheep flock, raising my beloved Bengal kittens, and I was financially able to accomplish it. I turned immediately to Athabasca University, and I never looked back. The flexibility has allowed me to keep at it virtually continuously, by working on only one class at a time, occasionally two. It allowed me to concentrate on my sheep breeding program, and to attend the national show and sale, The All Canada Classic, every year. I have been selling breeding stock across Canada since 2013.

I am currently in the process of completing my last class for a three-year Bachelor of Arts, with an anthropology concentration. It was not planned in any way that I should be graduating in the year of AU50, but it just worked out that way. Lucky me! It has taken me just over seven years to complete this degree, and I am justifiably proud of it, and being on track to graduate with great distinction is the icing on the cake.

This experience has taught me so much. I have learned what I am capable of, and I have learned how to manage my time and resources to make a course of action work out in a manner that (somewhat) resembles the original plan! One of the great joys of my life since that great upheaval of 2011 has been remarrying and sharing the ride with my husband, who has always encouraged me to do things that may seem scary or even downright impossible. He has whisked me off to Britain twice, travelled with me across Canada multiple times, shared a mutual love of livestock (I now know more about cattle than I ever thought I would!) and especially sheep, and he has always encouraged my AU journey.

The author posing in front of a landscape in Europe

My future is settled, even rooted, and at the same time it is literally wide open!

The great thing about Anthropology is how it completely changes and broadens your perspective about people. In many ways I am not at all the same person I was when this journey began. I am smarter, I am more confident, I am more aware, and I am more a citizen of the world. My personal journey landed me here, at AU, but it certainly doesn’t stop now. My future is settled, even rooted, and at the same time it is literally wide open!

I live near Halkirk, Alberta, and I am married to a fellow livestock producer. I raise purebred sheep and am a bit of a cat lady. I keep busy with raising sheep and Bengal kittens, and running an annual group production sheep sale, and finishing my degree means I will have time for it all now!

  • February 20, 2020
Guest Blog from:
Lorri Lyster