The Hub Courtney King: From darkness and despair to second chance at success
Transforming Lives: Learners at AU

Courtney King: From darkness and despair to second chance at success

By: Courtney King

Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series written by AU learners and alumni who want to share how AU helped shape their lives.

It’s a space for the people who have provided support and encouragement throughout their journey. It’s also a forum for sharing how AU is helping them achieve their educational goals and realize their future potential. Their stories are worth shouting from the rooftops! Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.

Higher education and pursuing a degree have been dreams of mine since finishing high school, but life had other plans—at least initially. Things were a little rocky leading up to my high school graduation. My family life was not a particularly supportive or safe environment. I had about $200 to my name from my part-time lifeguard job, and my physical and mental health suffered 

“Higher education and pursuing a degree has been a dream of mine since finishing high school, but life had other plans. ”

– Courtney King

Over the years, I had become a bitter and pessimistic person. Life was not going the way I hoped it would. I didn’t really have any career prospects; I had spent the last few years bouncing between living in my car, tent, and cheap rentals wherever I could find them. I was in the deepest part of my depression.  

I was in survival mode for so long that I forgot how to experience joy. I engaged in self-destructive behaviours, hurt others, and pushed people away. When I was laid off from my job in 2016, I decided that it was time for a change of scenery. I ended up moving across the country to live and work in Lake Louise, where I could hopefully save a little money and spend more time outdoors. Little did I know that moving west would be one of the best decisions I ever made.  

Five years later, I’m still living happily in the Bow Valley. Since moving here, I found work that I love, met my wonderful partner, adopted a dog, and enjoyed many outdoor adventures. I was also able to—finally—go back to school.  

Today, I’m in my third year at AU pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a University Certificate in Heritage Resources Management. I chose AU because no other university was going to be able to give me the flexibility I needed to complete my degree, especially because I live in a rural area and do not want to uproot and move our family so I could study in a city. AU has also provided me with the specific knowledge and skills I need to continue my work as a cultural resource advisor in Banff National Park. 

I didn’t have to change my life for Athabasca University. Instead, AU accommodated me and I am forever grateful for that because I may not have been able to go back to school otherwise.  

“Thank you, AU … for transforming my life. ”

– Courtney King

Thank you, AU, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me achieve my dream of earning my degree. Thank you for breaking down the barriers in students’ lives that keep them from receiving an education. Thank you for transforming my life.  

After graduating, Courtney King hopes to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in archives and records management with an emphasis on digitization and increasing accessibility in heritage spaces. She is a fierce advocate for mental health wellness, accessible design in museums, and Indigenous rights. She enjoys going to museums, reading, and adventuring in the mountains with her partner, Thomas, and canine companion, Rusty. 
  • August 13, 2021
Guest Blog from:
Courtney King