The Road to Convocation—Trail of Gratitude

It Takes a Community

How do I thank everyone who helped me during my time at AU?

In the lead-up to this weekend’s grad ceremony, AU’s convocation office asked me who I would most like to thank or acknowledge for their support while I completed my degree.  This, along with my responses to other questions, will comprise “a short biographical sketch that will be read aloud at Convocation.”  Since that sketch will be only thirty seconds long, brevity is key.

How can one sound bite encompass my gratitude?  Starting a list of people to thank is easy, but limiting it to a few dozen words is not.  Spouse, family, and friends, of course, but the waves of gratitude extend further than that.  Acknowledging everyone is impossible.

Here are some people in the AU community I’d like to acknowledge for their support:

Tutors.  For nearly all my courses, tutors were my first line of contact.  Some I communicated with a lot, some only a little, but they were all there ready to provide support from course start to course completion.  Most of my tutors were outstanding—I learned something from all of them regardless.  A special shout-out to my Creative Non-fiction tutor, Angie Abdou.  Not only did she encourage me to push my creative boundaries, she also took time out from her busy book tour to meet with me for coffee and a chat.

The Voice team.  The roster of writers has evolved over the five years I’ve written for The Voice, but some things remain the same:  a commitment to making the magazine the best source of information for AU students, in an environment of mutual support and encouragement.  The editor, Karl, helped make my writing—and my overall AU experience—so much better than it would have been otherwise.  I’ll have to continue contributing to The Voice just so I don’t lose touch with this great group!

AUSU staff.  I’ve enjoyed good relationships with AUSU staff over the years.  Any time I’ve needed information from AUSU for a Voice article, they’ve provided it quickly and cheerfully.  Special thanks go to Donette Kingyens, who often gave me more information than I realized I needed, and sometimes provided information before I even asked.

Facebook tribes.  Two Facebook groups, the AthaU group and the AU Study Group, were extensions of my campus for six years.  Any time I needed information, encouragement, or a pat on the back, the members of these groups were there for me.  Knowing that other students were experiencing similar struggles and successes made my studies easier.

Minds we Meet interviewees.  I conducted the student interviews for The Voice‘s Minds we Meet series for almost two years (see Meeting Up with the Minds we Meet, June 3, 2016.)  During that time, I connected with forty students from across Canada and around the globe.  While meeting—by phone or e-mail—real, live AU students, I learned something of value from each of those students.

AU’s extended community.  Everyone I’ve been in touch with at or around AU has contributed to my success in some way.  Much gratitude to the AU Library, Write Site, Exam Unit, Office of the Registrar, Faculty of Business, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research, AU Press, Writers in Residence, AUGSA, and anyone else who I’ve missed mentioning (but will think of seconds after this is published.)   You all helped make my time with AU pretty darned awesome.

When I cross the stage at convocation this weekend, you are all with me.  Thank you!

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