May Executive Blog

Four Kids, Work, AU… Repeat!

Attending an open, online University may be one of the most life changing decisions you have ever made.  Well done (virtual high five)!

In so many ways, attending AU is not like attending traditional brick and mortar style Universities and that’s a great thing!  I can think back to my first year of college when I was 19, getting up super early to catch the bus and LRT to my 8 AM Anthropology class.  Commuting a total of 3 hours a day between school and my two part-time jobs.  I fondly recall the distinct scent of my collegiate fellow whom reliably missed their morning hygiene routines.  I remember hauling around what felt to be a 50 lb stack of textbooks, the rigid structure of my day dictated by class schedules and even waking up sick but still having to attend class, feeling crummy and contagious.  The workload was so demanding there was little time for anything else; school was an all or nothing proposition.

Fast forward a few years… I find myself a single mother of 4 beautiful children and the owner of a successful business in the oil & gas industry based out of the little town of Athabasca, AB.  At a dramatically different point in my life, going back to school seemed about as far-fetched as running that marathon or back packing through Europe like I’d always intended.  Fortunately, we live in an online, technologically advanced world and I was able to return to University to pursue my studies in psychology. I’ve enjoyed my career immensely but there was always a part of me that wished I could pursue my passion for understanding the idiosyncrasies of myself and fellow humans.

My experience returning back to school has been dramatically different than those earlier years.  There is no need to commute anywhere and I often feel a little smug when I wake up, pour a coffee and crawl back into bed to crack my laptop to study in the wee hours before my little munchkins wake up.  My study partners are now fresh, bright eyed beauties that have returned from school and we sit around the kitchen table to do our homework together.

We are so fortunate that school no longer needs to be an all or nothing endeavour.  I, like many of you, have a rich, full life of family, work and friends and I can fit further education into that mix.  I don’t need to sacrifice my current career, move to another city or spend time away from my family.  I don’t need to wait until my children have moved out or sacrifice any of my precious time with them.  It certainly requires efficient time management but that’s a great skill to hone for any career path.

I love knowing that I study alongside students from every continent on this planet; from Olympic athletes to skilled professionals that are expanding their knowledge base to the time-honored stay at home parent.  Online distance education is the most leading edge and relevant type of education that exists today.

As the AUSU’s new VP of External and Student Affairs I am passionate about promoting AU Pride.  One of my main initiatives with this portfolio is to help foster a sense of community among students but also, just as importantly, between the students and the University itself.  In the age of social media, there are endless online communities and I see us as being no different.

But I need your help!

I want to data mine all of you.  I’m going to ask you for 30 seconds of your time.  If you could pause for just one moment and consider, what would help you feel more connected or involved with the University?  Go ahead and take a moment…… Got an idea? Awesome.

Scroll down slightly, see that grey comment field below?  Jot something in there.

I will be reviewing all of the feedback and looking into how we can make that happen for you.  With such a diverse community, I know that if we can all put forth some ideas, we can create a truly magnificent experience here at AU.

Melinda A. Goertz.

VP External and Student Affairs