Getting an A or A+ in a university course is a good reason to celebrate. After finishing the Athabasca University (AU) Bachelor of Commerce program, Michelle Rose is celebrating 34 of them.
Her incredible achievement is being recognized with the Governor General Academic Silver Medal, which is awarded annually to AU’s top undergraduate student, at AU’s June 11 convocation.
“I was actually extremely shocked, because it’s very difficult when you don’t have peers right in the class with you that you can talk to about grades,” she said. “Maybe I was naïve, but I thought everyone was getting As and A-plusses.”
Flexibility at AU
Like many AU learners, Rose had had experience in a more traditional school setting; she begin working on a teaching degree immediately after high school. After a year and a half, though, she realized working with elementary-age kids wasn’t for her.
When her son was born, she decided to run an in-home daycare for several years while also supporting her husband’s business by doing the bookkeeping. After a few years, and after her daughter was born, she decided it was time to go back to school.
She didn’t know if she wanted to do a full degree, so decided to take an accounting course because she knew even without a degree, some background in accounting would help her in the kind of work she was doing. So she signed up for one course. When it went well, she signed up for another, and another.
“That was pretty much my favourite thing about AU, is that I didn’t even have that full-time, five courses in four months, where you have all your exams at the same time,” Rose said. “I was able to space it out and work around my life, which is what I really wanted.”
Although she did experience some challenges along the way, and had to adjust to the experience of not having regular contact with other students, she said the highlight of her time at AU was taking part in a Case Competition with three other students from the program.
“It was nice to have that connection with real students; I feel like I really connected with them,” she said. “I would encourage any current student or future student to take these opportunities as they come and go out of their comfort zone to try something like that.”
Although her degree is finished, Rose said she is looking forward to continuing on the path of lifelong learning—something she says is an important part of her personal growth and future plans.
An accounting designation is likely in her future, she said, but she has not yet set those timelines in stone. In the short term, she plans to celebrate Convocation with her family—preferably somewhere away from the computer that has been her workstation for so many years.
“I’m very fortunate to live in a city with a gorgeous lakefront and riverfront, so we like to take picnics down to the beach or by the river. I think that’s how we’re going to spend the time after Convocation to celebrate,” she said. “It’s nice to be outside after being cooped up in a room for so long.”