Persevering in the midst of tragedy
June 13 2011
I am Angela Johnson, a fourth-year Athabasca University student, and this is my story.
My journey with Athabasca University began nearly a decade ago, in 2002. I was a single mother of a spirited and loving18-month-old little boy, and I was quickly realizing that working in the restaurant industry wasn't the career path I needed in order to be the most successful mother I could be. I decided to work towards a bachelor's degree so that I could eventually become a teacher. I couldn't think of a better fit for my son and I as we could finally have the same schedule, and I wouldn't have to spend my evenings away from him.
I'm not going to suggest that my Athabasca journey was easy. It was tough to begin with. I had some successes and some failures, but I always appreciated the flexibility and support of my tutors and slowly worked towards my goal, learning from my mistakes and pressing on.
In 2005 I had completed three years of my degree when my world fell apart. That magical little boy who inspired me to become a better mother and a better person was in a horrific car accident in Calgary along with his dad, who was killed instantly. From the moment I was notified until he died in my arms three days later, I was so lost and so numb. I felt like my world was over, and I didn't know where to begin to start to rebuild my life.
I spent a year doing some soul-searching and found a hero and a rescuer in my high school sweetheart, who I fell in love with all over again amidst this tragedy. Slowly I found myself again, and the following year I became a police officer. Again it was hard work, but I graduated from recruit training with an achievement award for "Instructor's Choice." I finally was feeling success again, and I passionately threw myself into my job for four years.
Last year, after giving birth to a beautiful daughter, I felt a strong desire to finish that degree and once again better myself. I had put so much time, money, and effort into the first three years of my degree, and I wanted all of those hours spent away from my son to count for something. Ultimately now, I would become something better for my daughter, and it is partly because of her big brother.
Athabasca has provided me with the opportunity to fit education into my life, even when it's seemed impossible. I am just beginning my final full semester, with just one course to complete after this term. I look forward to graduating in early 2012, and I will hold my head high at convocation with pictures of both of my inspirations in my cap. I've envisioned that day for a very long time.
I know that there are other Athabasca University students out there who have challenges and struggles like any student. My hope is that they will never give up, no matter how long it takes, and achieve their dream like I am doing now. I hope one day to further my bachelor's degree in psychology and obtain a master's degree. I would be the first in my family to do so, despite the odds being against me at times. Perhaps that is what drives me.
Thank you for reading my story, and good luck with your successes.
Send Us Your Story contest
Open AU is holding the Send Us Your Story contest until July 1, 2011. If you have have an inspiring education story, send it to us, and you could win an iPad.
For more information, visit: Send Us Your Story