The Hub AU allowed me to pursue counselling degree from rural Manitoba

AU allowed me to pursue counselling degree from rural Manitoba

Transforming Lives: Learners of AU is an ongoing series where real students and alumni share how AU’s flexible online learning model made a difference in their lives and communities. Submit your story.

I chose Athabasca University (AU) mostly because of its distance learning, which allowed me to complete almost my entire program from rural Manitoba!

The pacing of courses allowed me to work part time, be an involved parent, and maintain a healthy active lifestyle. The ability to continue my education— all from the comfort of my own home and without uprooting my family—was invaluable. 

“The pacing of courses allowed me to work part time, be an involved parent, and maintain a healthy active lifestyle.”

– Cara Zaharychuk (Master of Counselling ’17)

Online learning from anywhere

AU’s learning platform allowed me to overcome barriers such as location. I live in Melita, a small town in southwestern Manitoba, and our family loves to travel. The ability to attend classes from anywhere allowed us to continue travelling without interrupting my schooling.

The few in-person requirements of the program provided extremely valuable opportunities to meet the people I had been working with online. Five years later, I am still in touch with classmates that I met during these in-person sessions.

While the ease of completing my master’s degree through online learning was valuable, my greatest experiences in the program were in-person. The weekend seminars and summer sessions were incredibly motivating. 

Master of Counselling grad Cara Zaharychuk and daughter at AU convocation

AU Convocation a special celebration

If you have the opportunity to attend convocation, I highly recommend it. Completing all your work on your own at many different hours of the day can feel lonely at times; the graduation ceremony recognizes this huge accomplishment and all your hard work.

Anxiety about learning environments is another potential barrier that AU helps students overcome. The atmosphere of online courses reduces stress from social interactions.

Likewise, because of the easily accessible programs, AU students are diverse and come from a variety of students. The opportunity to meet like-minded people dealing with many different life situations helps create a very supportive learning environment. Whether fellow students are dealing with similar situations or completely different ones, you can feel the alliance.

Certified counsellor in K-12

I currently work as a school counsellor in our local K-12 school and I am registered as a Canadian certified counsellor. I enjoy attending the annual conference that the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association offers; the conference gives me the opportunity to attend valuable sessions and stay up to date with current counselling research. Attending these conferences also appeals to my love of travelling as the conference location changes yearly!

Some day, I aspire to run my own clinic and focus on play therapy—possibly in a warmer climate!

Transforming Lives: Learners of AU

Read more profiles of AU students and grads in our series Transforming Lives: Learners of AU.

Cara Zaharychuk graduated with a Master of Counselling degree from AU in 2017. She lives in rural Manitoba where she works as a school counsellor.

  • March 9, 2023
Guest Blog from:
Cara Zaharychuk (Master of Counselling ’17)