The Hub Zainab Mahmood: AU’s flexibility helped educator become advocate for the vulnerable
Transforming Lives: Learners at AU

Zainab Mahmood: AU’s flexibility helped educator become advocate for the vulnerable

By: Zainab Mahmood

Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series written by AU learners and alumni who want to share how AU helped shape their lives.

It’s a space for the people who have provided support and encouragement throughout their journey. It’s also a forum for sharing how AU is helping them achieve their educational goals and realize their future potential. Their stories are worth shouting from the rooftops! Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.

Where do I begin?

Zainab Mahmood and her sons

Prior to my journey at Athabasca University (AU), I thought my world in academia and education had ended. I was raising two young teenage sons on my own, and could not imagine attending university classes while being present in their lives, their activities, and holding down the fort for the three of us. I could not visualize leaving my job either.

My father found AU for me in 2016, and urged me to look into a program I may be interested in. Since AU is strictly an online university, it seemed convenient. I was quickly was registered as a program student in the Bachelor of Arts in Human Services after transferring diploma credits from an early learning and child care program.

Support network

The flexibility AU offers is remarkable. I was able to remain working and help raise my sons. I managed to help my sons with homework, and attend their school practices and games. Most of all, I was able to do what I love most—travel—all while pursuing a degree. The tutors at AU were extremely helpful. I learned it is absolutely vital to reach out to them with any questions or concerns, and they would always assist in one way or another. At times, I called and emailed my tutors and program administrators just to connect with them, and thanked them for all they did. Acknowledging their support is imperative!

Tutors are there to assist and support us as much as they can, but the way a student performs their study method is all up to the student. In my view, AU is a free-spirited university.

I was able to complete the degree and graduate in April 2018. At times, I completed two courses per month, and at other times, one course every two months. This changed based on how busy my personal life was. The flexibility AU offers is extraordinary!

Craving further education a few months after graduation, I decided to continue with AU and apply for the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program.

By September 2018, I had registered as a non-program student and was able to begin courses that would be applied to the MA-IS program. In 2019, I was officially a MA-IS program student. In 2020, I completed the MA-IS program with a focus in Adult Education with a GPA average of 3.5.

I was only able to succeed at AU the way I did because of the flexibility of the programs, the program administrators, and the tutors. During my MA-IS journey, I was able to travel to New York, South East Asia, British Columbia, and Las Vegas. With all that joy, however, came hardship.

I learned to prioritize my goals and reduced my social life to the minimum. And though this was difficult, it was essential in order for me to reach my goals.

I reflected deeply on where I would like to be in the near future. I was able to slow down in the midst of chaos, when I didn’t think this was possible.

My journey landed me here, at AU, but that certainly is not the end. Because of AU, I was able to reach my highest potential in gaining a job that I had always dreamt of. I pursued what needed to be pursued, and I chased my dreams. I am now in a much healthier and happier place in life.

Through all the obstacles faced, I gave myself no option to give up on my studies. I plan to continue working as an advocate for the vulnerable, for humanity, and to ensure equal rights. AU is what I chose to be my shield to all barriers in life, and I will forever be benefiting our society today because of the institution.

Zainab Mahmood has lived most of her life in Canada, but have managed to travel the world with her sons and experience various cultures and traditions while studying online thanks to Athabasca University! She was able to transfer her Diploma credits in Early Learning and Child Care from a Canadian University, which she also achieved through e-learning to gain a Bachelor of Professional Arts in Human Services from Athabasca University. After completing her Bachelors in less than two years, she decided to pursue a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a specialization in Adult Education as well from Athabasca University and completed her studied in March of this year. She is currently working as a University Research Assistant on a project called Pathways Into and Out of Precarious Status for Migrants in Canada. She will be pursuing her PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies, specializing in migration and precarious status in 2021.

  • November 5, 2021
Guest Blog from:
Zainab Mahmood