AU Profiles

Student: Carolyn Vaughan

Student: Carolyn Ann Vaughan

Hi Carolyn. Thanks for volunteering for AU Profiles! Tell us about where you live, and your family:

I currently live in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia. It is about a two-hour drive from the major city of Halifax Nova Scotia. Incidentally, I am an eighth generation Vaughan in Nova Scotia, directly descended from one of the Vaughan boys who “supposedly” discovered what they thought was the workings of Pirates on Oak Island (although I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario).

My dad, like many Maritimers of his day, went to Ontario to the “streets paved in gold” in 1957, I ended up back in Nova Scotia, because it is hard to keep a Maritimer from the salt water.

Do you have kids or pets? If you have kids, how have they reacted to your educational goals? Are they students too?

Between my partner, and myself- who is a male R.N., we have five grown children, ages 25 -30. We have one grandson who is three, and an eight-pound silky terrier named Sally. My children have always been my strongest supporters. They are my cheerleading squad, even when they were young and I went back to school. Now they are very proud that I am going to get a Degree.

When did you first learn about AU, and how are you liking the student life/distance education? How long have you been a student?

I learned about AU from searching the Internet, and discussing it with one of my daughters who lives in Alberta. She has her BSc from Acadia University, and took a biology course with AU. She was well satisfied with AU. I have been an AU student for two days. I am familiar with distance education because I have taken a Hypnotherapy course through distance ed, I am also a person who went back to school at the age of thirty, to become a Registered Nurse. I have been very pleased with the help I received from the BN student advisor, Gayle Duren- Purdy. I have also been pleased with the quick response from the library explaining how the ID system works, and I have been wonderfully thrilled at seeing photos of 2002 convocation and a virtual tour of the library. And I have been delighted to receive an email response from AU alumni Shirlee Matheson [See the new AUSU Alumni Page ( for a letter from Shirlee Matheson, and some pictures from the Distinguished Alumni Award presentation].

Do you work? What do you do?

I do work. I am a Registered Nurse and I have had the privilege of working in wide variety of nursing jobs. My first job as a RN was in a Catholic Hospital in St. Catharine’s Ontario, a place where we said morning prayers, and the sisters came around and rang a breakfast bell. Then there was the Victorian Order of Nurses in Nova Scotia, and then a surgical unit, and then a psychiatric unit, where I stayed for a bit. I was head nurse on the psych unit for a while. Then I went to Florida and worked in a Hospice, this was very interesting work. Then I came back to Canada and worked as the Health nurse at the provincial young offenders facility.

Then I had a little bump in the road and had a run in with Cancer of the Bowel, this was in 1994, then I developed and taught a Personal Care Workers course to First Nations ladies. I loved this job, the women taught me much. Then I worked in the community with female prisoners who were on parole, interesting work, once again the ladies taught me a great deal. The last nursing job was at a rural hospital in Nova Scotia, I worked at this for the past 18 months, and my next upcoming job will be a four month term position on Prince Edward Island. This will last until Mid Sept. and then I am hoping David and I can make arrangements to work a 3-month term down south, preferably New Mexico for Jan, Feb and March. Along with the work, I keep in touch with my grown children in Alberta, and see my little grandson when I get to the city. We have only been in this home for a few years, but it is my cottage on the Ocean and I am hoping to grow deep roots here. I’ve included a picture of my back yard. We bought a fixer upper, with 2.5 acres of land. Mostly pine trees, beach and wild roses.

What are your goals as a student?

Well I am hoping to fulfill the requirements for a BN and then enter the Advanced Graduate Diploma – Advanced Nursing Practice and hopefully a Masters of Nursing. Then I would truly like to use some of my hands-on experience and knowledge to assist newcomers to the profession of nursing. Nursing, in my mind is the greatest profession in the world. I owe it a debt of gratitude beyond measure.

Can you tell us about the AU Courses you are taking at the moment, or a favourite course?

The course I have registered for is Nursing 438 it is called “Trends and issues in health systems.” It sounded interesting! As for my favourites I am not sure yet, but I have my eye on the block of Nursing 500 courses – they look challenging and interesting. I am a little apprehensive about the Math 215/216 course but I think it would be one to bite my teeth into.

What are your hobbies or other interests?

I am a woman of various hobbies and interests. When I was a young mother, I learned to sew my children’s clothes. I also took up painting. I eventually sold a great number of house portraits (only $20.00 each, but I sold over 250 of them). I have done stained glass, made four quilts in my life and have one partially constructed. Partially finished quilts have a way of sitting around.

I have always been a voracious reader. I have dabbled at writing fiction, but the only writing I have been able to sell have been health articles, and one gardening article. I wrote a monthly Health column for a local paper for about two years [See “The Transfer” in this issue for some fiction from Carolyn].

My partner and I owned and operated a small options home for post mentally ill clients for about five years. And just this last year I decided to learn to play the fiddle. I am a beginner at this. My fiddle teacher is 14 years old; she is a master at it. I was her first student. I especially like fiddle waltzes. My favourite is “Tennessee Waltz “- but maybe this is just because I can play it!

I am a member of my faith community, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). I am what you call a convinced Friend and sought membership in 1998.

I once ran for Dartmouth, municipal council to see how the political system works – it was a learning experience, but I didn’t win. I did come in third though out of five contestants.

I am the past vice present of the Nova Scotia Self publishing Society – I always tell myself I am going to write a book. I have been saying this since my son was a baby, before Nursing, but who knows, maybe some day. I have been involved in “Alternatives to Violence” meaning I have participated in a number of weekend workshops at Dorchester Prison in New Brunswick and I am keenly interested in restorative justice and native rights issues. I would say I am a lady with many interests. I become quite passionate about situations, particularly social justice issues that impact upon ordinary people.

How is AU helping you toward your goals and/or enriching your life?

To have the opportunity to challenge my mind, to learn new thoughts, skills, and ideas will be a tremendous source of joy to me. AU will guide me in this. I hope to work my way through AU, the same way I got through nursing school when the children were young, one step at a time, one day at a time, giving it my best. I welcome the learning experience with much enthusiasm. And I feel privileged to be able to do so thorough distance education. AU has helped me in the two days I have been a student in that they have permitted me to sign up for a course that will begin very soon. No waiting in line, and I can work as quickly or as slowly as needed in order to accommodate my work as a Nurse. I will have more to say about the AU experience as I integrate into the University learning.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for other students?

If humanly, possible – avoid student debt.

Anything else we should know? Funny stories about the dog eating your laptop/ praise for AU, a friend or a tutor?

I am looking forward to receiving my tutor and my package of learning assignments. I am also looking forward to find a place to live on PEI for the summer. I am looking forward to seeing stories about AU people, students and staff. And above all, I am looking forward to having my children see their mom get her degree. Life truly is sometimes the most amazing of adventures.

Thanks Carolyn! You truly are a lady of many talents, and I’m sure many of us would look forward to hearing what you have to say once you have had more experience with AU courses! Best of luck.

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