In 2003, I made a choice to quit pursuing formal education because I couldn’t see where it would take me at the time.
Instead of taking out student loans in pursuit of … something, I focused in on a career and gave it my all. Along the way I met Christine, who would become my wife, and we grew a family together. And yet here I am closing in on the final months of my Athabasca University MBA journey, still no undergrad in hand, and I can’t help but feel a tremendous satisfaction.
This is not only because of the obvious delight in being THIS CLOSE to finishing an undertaking as large as a master’s degree, but also because it represents something much bigger: for me it’s about finally “growing up” and figuring out a direction to go.
I stumbled across my applications essay and, apart from feeling embarrassed at my flowery writing for an application to a university business program, I was excited about how far I’ve come since I started this journey four years ago:
“I believe that the future is for those who reach for the education needed; I believe that around us opportunities are endless, waiting to be seized; and I believe that there is value in learning for learning’s sake and in pushing oneself to the edge of what you know and beyond. I believe that the Athabasca University MBA program will help me move myself forward on all three counts, and I believe that this program will help transform me, to be capable of accomplishing more within both my career and personal life than I can even perceive today.”
“This is not only because of the obvious delight in being THIS CLOSE to finishing an undertaking as large as a master’s degree, but also because it represents something much bigger: for me it’s about finally “growing up” and figuring out a direction to go.”– Christopher Drobot
I can say with certainty that the final line has become entirely true. I could not have guessed for a second where these last four years would take me, and there have been some hard lessons along the way. All through it, however, I have been learning alongside a cohort of people all striving to achieve similar changes in their own lives. These are all equally ambitious and driven individuals, and they are also caring and compassionate people who have contributed to my growth in thinking and perceiving the world around me.
They have been there for me when things didn’t go as expected—or even when things unfortunately went exactly as expected—with a quick word of support and much-needed advice. Friends outside the program were also there with understanding as to why I couldn’t “come out and play,” or with a meal or a coffee on those days when I just couldn’t get out of my school zone. However, it has been my wife’s unwavering support of my education, even amid life’s other challenges, that has really helped me get this far at all.
As I mentioned, I had not completed an undergrad prior to starting this journey to a master’s degree. Athabasca’s alternate entry path for those with significant management experience made this whole thing a possibility, because they recognized experience through a lens of potential.
My choice to go “all-in” to a full-time career after I completed my first year of university, left me feeling the slightest pang of regret for my “failure” to complete my degree. Now, re-framing that perspective, I realize that my choice to give 100 per cent of myself to an unconventional career path has led me to where I am today. I am grateful for so many of the opportunities I’ve had along the way that following the “normal” path may not have afforded me. This newfound perspective, along with my Athabasca University MBA, are what I am leveraging as I forge ahead with a renewed passion for life, for family, and for community—foundational aspects of myself that I have rediscovered again in spades over these last few months of reflection.
Live life out loud
Would I recommend an Athabasca University program to others? At the risk of again using language too flowery, I say this: Only if they want the flexibility to live life out loud, unabashedly following their dreams to wherever they may take them, and to exceed the limits of what they believe themselves capable of achieving. Pushing yourself to learn alongside working a career will take everything you’ve got—but it will open doors you never even knew existed. Reach for your education, for yourself, for the “you” that doesn’t exist yet, and won’t exist, unless you push yourself beyond what you know.
Today is the day to take the first steps towards tomorrow.