It may be a first step, but it is a big one for a Bethany CollegeSide resident who is working towards completing her degree some 19 years after she had to stop.
Now 57, Lois Aarhus had been toying with the idea of finishing her psychology degree for a few years when her social worker Joanne McCready and a summer social work student looked into an option for her through Red Deer College.
Just two or three classes short of her bachelors degree in psychology, Aarhus made the tough decision to complete her studies.
“It always really bothered me, it was something that never got finished,” said Aarhus. “There were circumstances that made it impossible for me to go on.”
Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 19 and with three children at the time it became too difficult for her to continue her studies.
McCready and the student went over Aarhus’ marks and saw she had done very well in school almost two decades ago.
So they suggested Aarhus audit a course at Red Deer College.
While not receiving credit for the course, auditing allowed Aarhus to be a full participant in class but as a smaller step to getting back into the rhythm of being in college.
A partnership agreement with RDC allows residents at Bethany CollegeSide to audit any class the college offers for a minimal fee.
The course she is auditing, psychology 261 at RDC, is one she took when she was working towards her degree. But over that time period many elements of the course has changed as the theories and ideas behind some of the course material has changed.
“Just because I took the course way back when, doesn’t make it any easier now,” said Aarhus.
RDC now offers a psychology degree through the school, but with professors from the University of Calgary coming to teach. When Aarhus started her degree many of the classes were offered at RDC, but she had to go to Calgary for some of the classes.
“I feel like the dinosaur, like I’m from the ice age,” said Aarhus. “These students are so quick.
“I make a point of asking questions and as far as I know they are substantial questions. I contribute to class discussions.”
McCready said Aarhus has been notably brighter and happier since she returned to the classroom.
“She has something to look forward to,” said McCready.
Though this is just a first step, she is determined to finish what she started more than 20 years ago.
“I really do want to finish this degree,” said Aarhus. “It’s going to be so good for me to say I finally completed it. I was so upset I didn’t finish it and it would be so nice for me to say I got my bachelors degree.”