Meet Heather Setka, a 35-year old earning her Master’s in Canada.
I am a single mom to the coolest kid, nine-year-old Ava. (She rides horses, creates her own board games out of cardboard and asked for a pocketknife for Christmas. The coolest, right?) I work full-time, I write freelance, I practice yoga, and I’m a Master’s student at a reputable online university in Alberta, Canada (where I live).
I already have two undergrad degrees, but I wanted to work on my Master’s for years. I watched a friend complete hers, and I envied her experience the entire time. But I thought I couldn’t afford it, both time-wise and financially. I looked into the traditional route, because I was a snob. Universities should be bricks and books, I figured. But when I researched it, I realized I couldn’t manage it without massive student loans, something I’d worked hard to pay off after the first go-around. I researched Athabasca University, checked my Internet snobbery at the portal, and applied.
Here’s a small miracle. I love it. I love the independence of my study. I love the flexibility. I love the course material. I love that I can take one class at a time, and pay for it in pieces. I could not imagine, now, getting childcare to go to class or struggling to pay my bills while going to school.
Something else has happened that I didn’t expect. My daughter and I do our homework together. She is assigned half-an-hour of reading every night, so she and I cuddle on the couch while we both read for school. My heart does cartwheels (see photo) when I think about these moments, and how long it’s taken to get here.
Thanks for your interest in real women’s stories. And mad props to you for going back to school.
Master of Arts, Integrated Studies candidate
Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta (but also the World Wide Interweb)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada