The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Marianne van der Ahé (she/her), a Bachelor of Anthropology student currently located in Edmonton, Alberta. “This program is covering all my areas of interest, and so far I’m loving it. I have no career plans once I finish; I would like to be done by the time my husband retires. I’m doing it to learn new things about the world and understand people better. I guess if anything I’ll feel smart when I’m done,” she explained.
On a personal note, Marianne is a “born and raised” Albertan. She continued, “I would classify myself as a mature learner. I did a year of university after high school but was entirely unmotivated and distracted by other things, mainly my boyfriend. He soon became my husband, and we had three kids, who we home-educated through high school. They all moved on to post-secondary and then I figured it was my turn! I felt as though I had unfinished business and I want to keep my brain sharp and active, as well as use the second half of my life to accomplish something big.”
The Voice Magazine asked Marianne for some of her best study tips, and she had some great ones for fellow students. “This is a long-term project for me. I’m taking two courses at a time since I’m also teaching piano and looking after my grandson. One thing that’s been important for me is to obtain hard copies of all the textbooks. I study with my yellow highlighter handy and answer all the study questions on paper. I’m old-school for sure,” she let us know.
She also had some important advice for new students and/or prospective students. “Casting my mind back in time to when I went to university the first time, I would say don’t go to university because other people think you should. Do it for the love of learning and to prepare yourself for a future that you’ll love. That’s very motivating!”
When she is not studying, Marianne enjoys gardening, camping, travelling, walking, spending time with friends and family, as well as mountain biking in Jasper National Park and Edmonton’s River Valley.
In terms of travelling, Marianne let us know about a fairly recent vacation to Australia a few years ago. “I finished my scuba diving certification on an overnight trip to the Great Barrier Reef which was pretty epic,” she mentioned.
And speaking of life changing experiences, The Voice Magazine also asked Marianne which book has made an impact on her life and she chose The Bible. “It has given me peace and joy beyond anything this world can ever give,” she stated.
She considers herself the greatest influence on her desire to learn, however, she also mentioned her husband as her “biggest support” and her children as her “cheerleaders.” “They think it’s so great that I’m getting a degree now,” she stated.
As for her experience with online learning so far? It “has been really good.” She continued, “It’s flexible and I can fit it into my schedule with no problems. I haven’t had a lot of contact with other learners but that’s my own choice since there are opportunities given to network.”
Her most memorable course so far has been ANTH 272: Introduction to Archaeology. “It was a heavy course but lots of excellent readings and the garbology research paper was definitely memorable,” she explained. In addition, she has found her course tutors mostly “available and very helpful,” although this “varies from course to course.”
The Voice Magazine asked Marianne what her first project would be if she were the new president of AU. “To turn the focus of the university back to learning and away from political correctness,” she stated.
We also asked which famous person, past or present, she would you like to have lunch with, and why. While Marianne acknowledged that many “interesting people in history” have existed, she ultimately chose “Corrie ten Boom, who survived the concentration camps of WW2,” because “her story is amazing and she lived a life of service.” As for the lunch? “I’d let her pick the lunch!”
Marianne also let us know about her most valuable lesson learned in life. “One thing I’ve learned over the years is to stay humble. Everybody is on a journey and it’s not the same as mine. Be kind and remember that nobody’s perfect, including myself,” she explained.
And her proudest moment in life? “When I have all my three kids together and I look at the quality humans they have become (in spite of my parenting) I feel pretty good!”
As a final note, Marianne added, “As a mature learner I can say that no experience in life is ever wasted. Give yourself fully to the task in front of you and don’t sweat it if things don’t go perfectly. There are lessons in that, too.” Best of luck Marianne!
At times, in an online learning environment, it can feel like you are all alone, but across the nation and around the globe, students just like you are also pursuing their Athabasca University (AU) studies! Each week, The Voice Magazine will be bringing you some of these stories. If you would like to be featured next, do not hesitate to get in touch!