I have been studying with AU for several years now, and in those years I have grown and changed. My studies have taken me places which I did not expect. When I began my search for programs it was initially English I was solely interested in. I wanted to learn how to write, how to write for a living. I was tired of working in jobs where I came to an end of what I could hope to aspire to in a year or two. I was bored of working mindlessly, making just over minimum wage, a slave to an employer’s time schedule, just a meaningless name?something to write in a time slot.
As I progressed through my courses I found another passion, women’s studies. I was unsure on taking the first course, and I did not know what to expect. While studying at work one day (another mindless job with hours upon hours of unoccupied time) someone came through and asked what I was studying. “Women’s studies”
“Oh?” the man replied with a bit of a smirk, “so, how to cook and clean?”
I wish I had been more surprised at that reaction, but unfortunately it was about what I had expected?perhaps he knew that (as he was joking).
I discovered early on that my educational choices will not speak to everyone, and chances are anyone who asks will have a strong opinion about my decision. By coupling a women’s studies minor, with an English major, the ammunition it seems, is limitless.
Something which AU has taught me, which I will be eternally grateful for, is to be secure in myself. I am not limited to working mindless jobs, or jobs I do not want. I am not limited because I live in a small town and do not want to move. I am not limited in aspirations to be a clerk, a housewife, a bookkeeper, a mother. I am not limited. With AU I can achieve the things that I thought were only pipe dreams. I can work toward a goal, even if that goal has not entirely taken form yet. Whenever I get asked where I am working or what I am doing and I say “I am going to school for my BA in English” I always get asked, “What are you going to do with that? Teach?” (I am sure every English major ever gets faced with this one) I say “No. That’s the only thing I know, I am not going to be an English teacher.” Often this is followed by a long drawn out ?conversation? where, at times, the complete stranger is telling me I am wasting my time, or that they will see me at the coffee shop when I am done (ha, ha, ha). While I am constantly critiqued for my choice in education, I feel secure in my choice. I have learnt through the community within AU that my options are limitless.
I am not alone in my choices, and I am not alone in those assuming I will be a barista (and if I am in the end, so what?) Recently the trend has become that the only education worth getting is one that will secure you a high paying job immediately after school. And there is nothing wrong with this choice, and I commend those going after their dreams that lead them down this road. There is also, however, nothing wrong with not knowing where you are going; with not having a definite answer to the question, “What are you going to do with your degree?” I will learn along the way the path I will take. I know that I have a direction, and it may change along the way as I grow and learn, both within the university and outside of it.
I have spent my time in jobs I did not like, in jobs where I meant nothing, where I had no passion. And if I took a route that led me through the sciences I would end up with a job I did not like, where I had no passion. The only difference then, between post-degree and pre, would be my annual salary. I would like to take the chance, to learn what I love, and to hopefully pursue a job I love and have a passion for. Is that not what post-secondary education is for? To find a passion? To pursue that passion and turn it into a career?
I have learned to find it amusing when people laugh at my degree choice. Is it a coping mechanism? Perhaps. What else is there to do though, when you meet a complete stranger, half way around the Bowron lakes circuit, a hundred kilometers in the middle of nowhere, who laughs at your life choices?
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature