Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series written by Athabasca University (AU) learners and alumni who want to share how AU has helped shape their lives.
It’s a space to thank the people who provided help and support along the journey, and to share insight on how learning at AU has transformed their lives, careers, families, and communities.
These stories are worth shouting from the rooftops! Do you have an inspiring story to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.
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. Females 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.
I knew I had to do it by distance 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 AU, and I never looked back. The flexibility allowed me to keep at it virtually, 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.
“The flexibility allowed me to keep at it virtually, 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 every year.”– Lorri Lyster
I recently graduated (with Great Distinction!) from the three-year Bachelor of Arts, with an anthropology concentration. It took 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.
The experience taught me so much. I learned what I am capable of and 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 enjoying the journey 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 has always encouraged my AU journey.
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!