The Hub A family affair
Transforming Lives: Learners at AU

A family affair

By: Robert Hrabluk

Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series, written by AU students and alum, who want to acknowledge the people in their lives who have helped to mold and transform their AU experience and achieve their greatest successes.

Their gratitude toward these integral individuals is worth shouting from the rooftops! We, too, thank these most important people for allowing the AU authors to achieve their educational goals. Read the other Transforming Lives: Learners at AU testimonials.

Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.

Two and a half years ago, I decided to begin applying for entry into a graduate program. I knew with my hectic work schedule that I was not going to have time to attend traditional lectures and classes at a local university, then I came across Athabasca’s University online learning programming. It has been two years since I was accepted and I have been able to maintain a fairly balanced school, work, and personal life. This balance has been enhanced by my family and friends that have supported me in my decision to continue with higher education.

Robert Hrabluk Athabasca University Family Affair Habitat for Humanity Music Teacher Winnipeg Manitoba

Enter the family

There has been an interesting evolution that has taken place concerning the supportive involvement of my family and friends. In the initial stages of my coursework, I would have my support system read through most of what I was submitting, whether it be a small forum post or a longer essay. This way, we could begin to engage in a brief conversation about the topics at hand. I have found that sometimes a student can isolate themselves in specific research topics and roles that take them a step outside the ‘norm’ of society. This initial ‘reading back’ process aided my support system in understanding the role that I was taking on as part of being a student at AU. In continuing the evolution of personalized support services, my family began providing feedback on my essays before and after submitting them; acting as an independent third party, if you will, they took on the role of ‘professor’ and gave me their insight on the topics I covered. 

As I moved through the program in the first year of study, certain courses came with an element of synchronous online discussions. This meant that family members, including my puppy, Bowers, had to sequester themselves in another area of the home in order for me to be able to have my undivided attention on the class proceedings. They give up their space and time, and make an effort to ensure I receive what I need out of each session. Speaking of Bowers (of course I consider him family and my best friend —he covers both), he has been a source of inspiration reminding me that no matter how tough things become, sometimes the simplest things in life, like going for a walk, can change one’s mindset and get a student out of an uncreative writing slump. I am currently in the midst of writing my thesis and truly value everything that my support system has done for me. I believe it is because of them that I do not feel like a ‘lone wolf’ taking online classes but rather part of a larger family learning unit. Combining this family learning unit with my new found online family and friends at Athabasca University, I’ve found a recipe that always equals success.  

Robert is currently working towards a Master of Education in Distance Education through Athabasca University. He maintains a busy schedule as a music teacher in multiple schools within the Winnipeg Public School System. During the last few summers, Robert has explored building Habitat for Humanity homes in New Orleans, volunteer music teaching in Mpigi, Uganda, and running arts workshop with the Skid Row community of Los Angeles at The People Concern. Robert can be reached at:

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  • January 24, 2019
Guest Blog from:
Robert Hrabluk