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SFU NOW paves path to long-awaited degree

October 06, 2015
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By Carol Thorbes

Graduand Bonnie Tetlock has some wisdom to impart to high school graduates and adult learners alike as she prepares to collect her BA this fall.

She says it doesn’t matter whether you earn your degree immediately after high school, or over a 33-year period like she did, or even as a senior citizen.

Lifelong learning, she says, should be inherently flexible and timeless. That’s how she finally completed her degree through Continuing Studies’ SFU NOW degree-completion program.

“I don’t think working and going to school simultaneously is necessarily a hardship. It’s an option that suits you, or not,” says Tetlock, 60, who works in healthcare management.

“If I’d had the right direction when I was 17 and finished high school I might have done it all at once,” says Tetlock, who was in her 30s when she started her degree as a university transfer student at Douglas College. By then she was married and working, and had a mortgage.

Her work years in various healthcare environments nurtured her passion for understanding how unions work and what makes people tick. That led her to pursue a BA with minors in sociology and labour.

“I have been involved with the Hospital Employee’s Union and the Health Sciences Association in my work and I wanted to understand people better—friends, family and co-workers,” she says.

“I wanted to know how their circumstances shaped them over time. I also wanted to make my own decisions about political events, especially global events, rather than just relying on news reports.”

After a 25-year break from her undergraduate studies, Tetlock pursued more courses as an SFU-Douglas College Partnership student in the mid-2000s and eventually finished them in Continuing Studies’ SFU NOW program. During her pauses she also worked on a certificate as a health-records technician.

Tetlock is now setting her sights on another degree that will allow her to teach in healthcare.