Such is Dawn Palmer’s story.
Even in 1999, when Palmer first immersed herself in distance education her circumstances weren’t completely conducive to a devoted educational endeavour. At the time, a single mother of two young children, Palmer needed to study from home.
“I have studied everywhere: in my car during soccer practices, at an ice rink waiting for my son’s hockey game to start, on a bench prior to my daughter’s field hockey game,” Palmer said. “You have to be extremely creative and organized with your leisure time.”
Through such creativity, Palmer was able to juggle her two children, two step-children, her extracurricular activities and a demanding full-time job with her studies despite the work related challenges she faced. But it wasn’t until seven years into her distance education that Palmer encountered her most trying tribulation. “The most difficult personal challenge that I faced was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Palmer recalled.
Enrolled in a course and nearing the end of her Bachelor of Arts, General Studies degree through Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning (TRU-OL), Palmer chose to make her circumstances work for her despite the severity of her situation.
In order to complete her education through TRU-OL, Palmer extended her course, which allowed her to get the work done while she underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiation. As a result of her perseverance, Palmer was able to complete the course by the end of her treatments.
While such health circumstances may have made it impossible for some people to continue with their educational goals, Palmer was able to make her situation as a distance learner work.
“I am incredibly grateful that I was able to obtain a course extension when I was undergoing breast cancer treatments,” Palmer said. “I was determined not to quit and was able to complete the course, despite my medical challenges.”
Completing a degree was a challenging venture, however Palmer also described as “one of the most rewarding experiences” in her life. “Learning is never ending and being able to study at your own pace, with supportive faculty members by your side, is an ideal way to achieve both career and educational goals,” Palmer said.
Palmer was able to advanced her own career as a result of realizing her educational goals through TRU-OL, leaving her work in Human Resources within the healthcare industry to take a position as Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Langara College.