AU Profiles – Tia Siewart

STUDENT: Tia Siewart

In this week’s profile, we meet second-year Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) student Tia Siewart. This single mother of two tells us what motivates her study habits, and how long-term planning and a whole-person coursework approach keep her on track.

She also shares her special technique for combatting those common feelings of frustration and discouragement.

?I originally started AU while I was pregnant . . . I wanted to stay home with my baby,? Tia says.

Her decision to return to school was both financially and personally motivated: ?Raising two kids on my own . . . with my current wage . . . was motivation enough,? she says. ?Plus, I wanted more for myself: I wanted to make a career for myself.?

The flexibility of distance learning has opened up other opportunities. Since starting with AU, Tia has moved from the city to a remote peninsula in Newfoundland, in a quiet community of about 160 people. ?It is very, very beautiful . . . [It’s] nice to live just off the ocean,? she says. ?Being with AU, it is an option right now.?

Despite living in a small community, Tia’s life is still hectic with her two kids and full-time studies. ?I am lucky that I eat!? she says. Her secret to managing time is organization.

For example, she lays out a whole course plan at the beginning, sorting through her course materials and creating a week-by-week schedule. She has carried this approach into other areas of her life as well. ?I also make lists for all my housework,? she says.

Self-motivation is one of Tia’s strong points, and it helps her keep to her schedule, even if there’s a time crunch. ?I . . . panic if I feel that I am even two days behind!? she says. ?I don’t have problems keeping up with my pace.?

This means that although she has weekly and long-term course goals, she can be flexible about her daily study time. ?I try to do it in the daytime when [my] older child is in school,? she says. ?Some weeks I . . . get the weekend off, and some weeks I work every day . . . I just remain flexible.?

Planning has become a way of life, but It’s not only about the work, whether school or home-related. To keep from getting burned out, Tia makes sure to schedule in downtime. ?I arrange each four months so that I get a week or two off at the end if possible,? she says. ?I get a little holiday after each four month run.?

To cope with the day-to-day business of learning, Tia has worked out some creative study methods. Rather than sticking to one technique, she combines several in a whole-person approach.

?I try to incorporate a lot of the senses so that it encodes in my long-term memory,? she says. For example, she marks her text, takes notes, cross-references, flags pages, and uses flashcards??for the hands-on? part, she says.
As for the other senses, she says, ?I will use the reading for visual [and] will say things out loud for the auditory.?

Not surprisingly, these techniques help her retain what She’s learning. ?I have worked with special needs kids, Alzheimer’s people, and [in] other jobs that have taught me to [use] what really works, instead of what ?should? work,? she says.

Tia’s background and approach to learning suggest a career in counselling, and although she hasn’t settled on a career field at this point, She’s currently leaning in that direction.

?I would like something with a high job demand where I can choose where to live,? she says. ?I would be open to living in a remote area in the future . . . [and] there is a lot of need to reach remote areas with human services jobs.?

In the meantime, She’s working steadily on her degree, but sometimes the road ahead seems long. ?I am 33 and . . . the undergrad will take until the end of 2011,? Tia says. ?Then I have to further my education past that.?

It’s easy to get discouraged, but Tia has a good weapon: visualization, a technique She’s used throughout her life. ?I picture myself when I am 50,? she says. ?I am working at my career and I love it, and then I go home to my cozy home.?

And She’s careful to make it realistic, ?so that I’ll believe it!? she says. ?I picture it all . . . my kids? pictures on my desk.?

Most importantly, she visualizes how she’ll feel once It’s all behind her. ?I just picture it all done,? Tia says. ?And worth it.?