This September, thousands of kids and young adults will be hitting the books again as schools, colleges, and universities re-open for the fall session.
But one 51-year-old will join those ranks as a full-time student after a long career in municipal affairs.
Laurie Darcus, currently director of corporate services with the City of Pitt Meadows, will start on her master's degree in archeology at SFU this fall, a two-year effort.
After completing her BA with a double major in archeology and anthropology a few years ago, Darcus thought she was done studying.
The decision to go back to school full-time came to Darcus when she was in Ethiopia from April 26 to June 13 doing research on grinding stones.
While it's a huge risk for Darcus quitting a stable job, she said there's a point in one's life when one has to accept signs, follow a passion, and "make life worthwhile."
"It's a risk, a big risk, a huge risk," Darcus said, "but here I go."
While she started university after high school, with plans for a career in journalism, Darcus said she doesn't regret not finishing then - financial circumstances didn't allow her to continue.
Now, though, at 51, with her mortgage paid off, she's ready to take the plunge.
"I think I had to be at a point in my life where I could take risks," Darcus said.
Darcus's great-grandmothers on both sides were First Nations, which initially sparked her interest in archeology and anthropology: "I was interested in finding out about the world views of my ancestors," she said.
But when she started doing field work in Africa three years ago, she really found her passion.
In 2009, she went as a student to do field work in Benin in western Africa.
In 2010, she returned as a volunteer and supervisor, this time helping the Beninese learn how to do archeological work.
Because a lot of the history of the Beninese is written by the colonial powers, they are often portrayed as "savages," whereas current archeological work shows the society was highly developed, with hierarchies and trade systems.
The archeological work was important for the Beninese, because it gave them pride in their past, not having to rely on colonial interpretations of their history.
Darcus's interest has moved from western Africa to the eastern side of the continent, and her work will focus on stones used to grind flour in Ethiopia.
The grinding stones were used for millennia to prepare the Ethiopians' staple food. In the past few years, they have been replaced by electric mills.
On the one hand, the switch has freed up about six hours a day for women who can now do chores that children did before.
And the children can go to school.
On the other hand, it has changed life for Ethiopians, introducing a cash economy, with changed relationships among cooperative communities.
"I'm getting all passionate and excited," Darcus said, interrupting her own narrative about the Ethiopian grinding stones.
Her research will fall under the category of ethnoarcheology: she'll be interviewing people now to find commonalities in the past.
Darcus said she is both nervous and excited about the path she's taking, but she wants to do what she is truly passionate about.
Noting that her father passed away at age 67, Darcus said, "If my life is going to be short, it better be good and rewarding."