Around eCampus – Thomas Oates

AU's People and Places

Students who have written weekday exams at the Edmonton Learning Centre will no doubt remember the friendly face of Thomas Oates. Oates is an Examination Assistant with AU and works out of the Peace Hills Trust Tower. In this role, he schedules and invigilates exams for AU students in and around the Edmonton area.

Oates first heard of AU while still an undergraduate student at Memorial University in Newfoundland, ?almost 20 years ago.? At the time, Oates ?needed a course to fulfill a requirement? for his degree. Since then, he has ?done distance education courses from other institutions as well,? including ?University of Waterloo, Humber College, George Brown College, Memorial University, [and] University of London (UK).?

But ?from all the other institutions? Oates has dealt with, ?AU was the only institution who made regular contact with the student. It was quite impressive.?
Three years ago, Oates began working with the university as an Information/Examination Assistant, and gained the full-time Examination Assistant position when it became available two-and-a-half years ago.

Oates is generally in the office from Monday through Friday and explains that in an average day, he spends half his time invigilating exams, and the other half taking students? exam requests and inquiries, and ensuring that he has the correct exams and materials that go with them. His favourite part of the job is ?interacting with the students and helping them out one-on-one when they come here into the office.?

In his spare time, Oates likes to read mystery novels by Agatha Christie, Ian Rankin, Sir John Mortimer, and M.C. Beaton. ?Right now,? Oates says, ?I’m reading Le Bal by Irène Némirovsky. I’m also studying towards a master’s degree here with AU. I also do volunteer work with the YWCA.?

In the future, Oates hopes to travel back to Heidelberg, Germany. ?I was there 10 years ago for two months studying the language and travelling around the area,? Oates explains. ?The language requirements were the last credits for my degree, and when the opportunity came up to study in Germany for a month, I couldn’t resist.? While in Germany, Oates stayed in Max Weber House, part of the University of Heidelberg named for the ?father of sociology.?

Oates also enjoys collecting quotations, particularly by Winston Churchill. Three of his favourite quotes are ?attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference,? ?difficulties mastered are opportunities won,? and ?never, never, never give up.? Particularly applicable words coming from the man who supervises apprehensive students as they nervously write their final exams!