CONVOCATION 2004 – Graduate Profiles

AU’s newest grads flocked to Athabasca this past weekend to collect their parchments and visit their alma mater.

For many, it was the first time they had laid eyes on AU’s main campus, which is visited by only a small number of students each year, primarily science students attending summer labs.

This year’s graduates were treated to a catered meal, courtesy of AUSU, and each grad was gifted with an engraved nickel desk clock, also courtesy AUSU, to remind them of their accomplishment for years to come.

Voice reporter Carla Benavides caught up with the several grads for photos and a brief bio. Read on and get to know just a few of the many students who have earned an AU undergraduate degree this year.


Andre Derias
Bachelor of Arts

Andre Derias came from British Columbia for his Bachelor of Arts degree.

Andre and his family live in a rural community, which is why he chose AU, to keep up his family life without having to relocate. He had an amazing two and a half years with AU and was very happy to attend convocation.

Throughout his studies, Andre found the tutors to be helpful and available when he needed to contact them, and he is grateful for the kind staff that he interacted with.

His favourite course was Native Studies, and the most valuable aspect of his distance education experience is that if he wanted to, he “could do it again”; essentially, life-long learning is open ended.

His advice to students is to keep on top of homework and assignments, and to talk to your tutors. Andre recommends AU as an option for post secondary learning and says that future students should experience AU convocation in person.

Congratulations Andre!


Tina Schwenning
Bachelor of Professional Arts

Tina Schwenning is from Calgary, Alberta, and graduated this year with a Bachelor of Professional Arts degree with a major in Criminal Justice.

While her three years of distance education were a good experience, the highlight for her was finishing her last exam.

Tina has learned that you can not procrastinate while studying through distance education, and that when your life outside of University is busy, you must take full advantage of any free time.

Her advice to AU students is “don’t cram!”

Tina also appreciated how well organized the convocation was and was clearly happy on this very important day.

Awesome job Tina, and most success in the future!


Shannen Hoffman
Bachelor of Nursing

Shannen Hoffman is also from Calgary and is happy to have graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing.

Like so many of AU students, Shannon chose the university for the flexible time schedule it offered, and had an excellent two and a half years. She particularly enjoyed her time spent on the Calgary campus.

As well, she found her tutors to be personable and supportive. She would advise, though, that students always contact their tutors before sending in assignments. If she could do it over, she would prefer to not work full time.

Shannon actively volunteers for several organizations in her community, as well as working full time while raising three children. Even so, Shannon earned her degree and in a very small amount of time, although it cost her sleepless days sometimes weeks while finishing assignments.

Through her dedicated study and volunteer work she has found that anyone has the opportunity to continue life-long learning and still have a life. She also learned that through perseverance and a little time you can make your dreams come true.

Shannon loves The Voice and receives updates by email. She’d like to see more pictures on the website, of AUSU council and staff. She would also enjoy reading more student success stories.

You are admirable Shannon, congratulations!


Terryl Wamsteeker
Bachelor of Commerce

Terryl Wamsteeker is another resident of Calgary and has graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

Terryl loved the AU experience but her best memory was finishing her last course.

Perseverance paid off for this new grad. She enrolled two weeks before her daughter was born and continued with AU so that she was able to stay at home. Thirteen years later, she has earned her degree and shares the moment with her beaming teenage daughter and proud husband.

She wouldn’t do anything differently except finish the degree in six years, if she could do it all over.

The most valuable lesson she’s learned is to have discipline in your studies. She advises against leaving any assignments to the last minute as “procrastination is the root of all evil.”

Terryl has highly recommended AU to friends and has convinced many of them to enrol. She was touched by the bios that were read as each graduating student was called up to accept their parchment, and felt that it was a nice addition to a beautiful convocation.

Three cheers Terryl, and success in all your future endeavours!


Yuan Hu
Bachelor of Administration

Yuan Hu flew in from Vancouver, BC, to receive his Bachelor of Administration, which he finished in three years.

Distance learning was a new experience for Yuan and he found it difficult not to be face to face with students and tutors.

He would like to see more opportunities for classroom settings and/or for students and tutors to connect.

His studies combined online AU courses with courses transferred from another University.

His best experience was earning his degree.

He also enjoyed the flexibility that comes with distance education and feels time management was his most valuable tool gained.

Congratulations Yuan on your perseverance and success!


Harpreet Lall
Bachelor of General Studies

Harpreet Lall travelled up from Calgary, Alberta to receive her Bachelor of General Studies.

She found the format of distance education to be tough at times, but admits it was a good challenge.

What she appreciates about this style of learning is being able to stay at home while studying.

She feels that this University is one of diversity, offering many options to students.

Harpreet loves the natural setting that is Athabasca country, and would have lived here during the three years of her studies, if she could do it all over.

Harpreet has learned that if you are committed, hard working, and never lose faith, you will always reach your goal.


Hyacinth Leong
Bachelor of Arts – Psychology

Hyacinth Leong is another new graduate from Calgary, Alberta.

It took her just four years to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology.

As a collaborative AU student in a Mount Royal College program, Hyacinth was able to transfer credits to earn her degree with Athabasca University.

She feels that earning a degree this way was, overall, a good experience.

Hyacinth was very impressed by the convocation ceremonies and felt the whole day was a success.

Congratulations Hyacinth!


Eleanor Kubinec
Bachelor of Nursing

Eleanor Kubinec travelled to Athabasca from Trochu, Alberta.

Having a young family to care for, Eleanor chose AU for the flexible hours it offered, and through the years was impressed by the excellent staff.

Her most memorable student experience was receiving her first really good marks.

Eleanor found motivation in knowing that the day of graduation would arrive.

Today, she received her Bachelor of Nursing, and after nine years of hard work, Eleanor has realized that you can accomplish anything you set out to.

Congratulations on a job well done!


Mary-Colleen Ross
Bachelor of Administration

Mary-Colleen Ross lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta and graduated this year with a Bachelor of Administration.

She was thinking of writing for The Voice, however, it was difficult to make the time between studies and living in two different cities during the year.

She loved being an AU student, describing it as an overall wonderful experience, having absolutely no regrets.

Earning a degree through Distance learning has taught her not to procrastinate, as well, she advises new students to spend as much time as possible getting to know their tutors.

Mary-Colleen has attended many convocations at other Universities, and believes this was, by far, the best one she has ever attended.

Better yet, the most exciting part of her three years as an AU student, and being here today, is graduating.

All the best to you in the future Mary-Colleen!


Karla Thiessen
Bachelor of Nursing

Karla Thiessen travelled all the way from Altona, Manitoba to received her Bachelor of Nursing degree.

During the course of completing her program, Karla gave birth to and raised two children, while also fitting in time for work and study.

She says she wouldn’t have been able to continue her education had it not been for the flexibility of study time, open semesters, and the ability to stay at home while working on an AU degree.

Although it was difficult at times, she’s learned that determination, discipline, and lots of hard work will get you where you want to be.

If only she could have quit working while completing her degree!!

Karla has found many of her AU courses to be very useful to her career, and also feels a greater appreciation for her community through knowledge gained and applied.

After seven years of dedication, Karla is clearly thrilled about her accomplishment and so she should be. Congratulations Karla!

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