Michelle Martin: Lifelong learning at Athabasca University

(ANNews) – A post-secondary education should be open to anyone wishing to pursue higher education. However, for many, affordability can be a major factor when considering further studies. Some students have access to student loans, savings such as a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), can self-fund by working while studying, or have family members that can contribute towards the costs of their education.

We know that every situation is unique, and often there are opportunities for funding that some students may not be aware of. As a First Nations member, there are pathways to help you with your Athabasca University (AU) education and access to funding to help ease some of the financial costs.

One of the best ways to fund your degree is through your local band funding. If you’re a Band member you may be eligible for federal funding administered through your Band office!

Athabasca University is proud to be a part of the approved affiliated educational institutions that can help you get your degree today with some band funding. Eligible costs covered by the program may include:

  • tuition
  • books
  • travel support
  • living allowances


Athabasca University also offers several awards and bursaries for Indigenous students.

The ability to enrol in post-secondary with AU has never been easier.

Any Status First Nations post-secondary student who maintains a satisfactory academic standing within an eligible post-secondary institution is eligible to apply. Whether you’re taking your undergraduate or postgraduate degree, you can apply today to see if you qualify.

Why Athabasca University?

Our university delivers all our programs and courses online, all you need is an internet connection. The costs are significantly reduced when learners can live in their own community without the expectation to move away to go to school. Many students continue to work part-time or full-time, an advantage for those that don’t want to remove themselves from the workforce to study.

AU is also asynchronous for most programs, allowing our students to study and learn at the times that are most convenient to them. Rather than scheduling activities and family time around course schedules, with AU you schedule your course time around your life!

Staying in your community while you pursue your degree can be a game changer for many. When you don’t have to uproot your life and can stay where you have a network of supports is a key aspect of a successful learning journey.

Indigenous women in business

One of AU’s recent graduates is Michelle Martin, and when she enters a boardroom, she knows she is backed by her education from AU. She is an inspiration for and is inspired to support Indigenous women in business.

Michelle Martin, originally from the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, is a financial analyst at Mamaweswen, the North Shore Tribal Council in Ontario that represents seven First Nations communities along Lake Huron Martin attended Athabasca University, and received her Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business Administration degrees, the latter of which she completed as part of the class of 2022. “It gave me a lot of confidence and credibility behind my name and my credentials to be able to successfully lead a team,” explains Martin.


“It gave me a lot of confidence and credibility behind my name and my credentials to be able to successfully lead a team,”- Michelle Martin


At AU, we pride ourselves on the wealth of programs that we offer in business, humanities, sciences, health and much, much more. One of the most important things that AU provides their learners is flexibility with their studies.

Martin feels that her success as a leader and role model was supported by that flexibility. In addition to her career in business, Martin is also a busy mother, and needed programming that could be scheduled to work around her life.

“When it came to me pursuing my master’s, it was a natural progression to continue with Athabasca University because I liked the format and the asynchronous environment,” she said. “I enjoyed not having to be in class and taking a self-directed approach, because I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to completing my studies. It was an easy decision for me.”

The growth and success she’s achieved personally and professionally is something she wants for all Indigenous women. This desire is what led her to pursue a Doctor of Business Administration, also at AU, where she is tackling her dissertation with leadership and representation at the forefront.

Beyond her academic and career success, it’s important to Martin to set an example for her children. As a lifelong learner, she has earned a certified financial planning certificate in between receiving her bachelor and master’s degrees. The mother of two believes that knowledge is power and that’s why she places a priority on education.

“I always believe in inspiring that desire to have lifelong learning as part of your spirit,” says Martin. “I’ve always been a lifelong learner. I’m hoping that they pick up on that spirit as well.”


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