Minds We Meet – Interviewing Students Like You!

Lisa Barnett is an AU student from Lively, Ontario. A native of Sudbury, she spent 12 years in southern Ontario but is happy to be back in the north. Lisa’s full-time job involves supporting five Family Health Teams in Northeastern Ontario with various quality improvement initiatives and data analysis. She is enrolled in AU’s 4-year BA program, majoring in Psychology.

Lisa was recently interviewed by The Voice Magazine about school, family, and flexibility.

Describe the path that led you to AU.
I had originally started in AU’s Bachelor of Health Administration program in 2007. I took one course and did not finish it, resulting in a fail. It just wasn’t the right time. My son was two, and my husband was recovering from a serious work-related injury. It was just too much.

So, I was an inactive student at AU for years and didn’t know if I would ever continue. Then, about 1 ½ years ago, I was selected for a Northern Leadership Program, even though I wasn’t in a leadership role. That got me thinking that I had it in me to go back to school. I gathered all the info I needed about my previous schooling and applied for transfer credits, and began studying at AU again in May 2014. I don’t need a degree for my job, but I turned 40 this year and I felt, “I just have to do this.”

What do you do like to do when You’re not studying?
Right now I’m really involved with my son. He has a learning disability so I have to help him with his schoolwork. He’s also involved in competitive swimming, basketball, and curling. In the summer, we take our dogs and go camping.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
My inspiration came recently. I was working on a project at the hospital involving mental health and addiction. One of the psychologists on the project team mentioned that he made multiple attempts at getting his degree and was in his thirties when he finally did. That tipped the balance for me, because I had been thinking I was too old to pursue a degree. I figured I was already registered as student at AU and I just needed to do this.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
I would say Angelina Jolie. I don’t follow her acting career but I admire her humanitarian work and the fact that she adopted her children from under-developed countries. I’d like to know more about those aspects of her life.

Describe your experience with online learning so far. What do you like? Dislike?
I like it a lot, although I haven’t done much of it online because I’ve been sent actual books for my courses. The course message boards have been useful and I’ve been amazed at how quickly responses are posted. The best part of AU is the flexibility. In a regular university structure, classes are at set times, assignments are due on set dates, and the exam is set, too. I’m really busy with family and working and I like having the ability to purchase course extensions. AU gives students that “give” that busy people need.

Was there ever a point when you wavered about your education?
Making that initial decision seven years ago to go through for Health Admin?I did waver then. I thought then, “Am I going to do something with this?” In the end, I thought I should study something I’m really interested in.

What’s your most memorable AU course so far, and why?
It was my first course, PSYC 290, General Psychology, because I did so well in it! For one thing, I hadn’t written a paper in a decade. For another, the exam was worth 50% of the final mark. I had to do so some travel for work so I wrote the exam after getting back from over two days driving. I ended up doing really well, and I thought, “I’ve got it. I can still do this.”

Describe the proudest moment in your life.
I think It’s when my son, who’s in grade 4 but follows the grade 2 curriculum in reading and math, says, “You’re the greatest Mom!” It feels great to get that acknowledgement. I’m on the road about 25% of the time for work, but he knows I’ve got his back, that he can count on me.

What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?
Nothing?and That’s the main thing. I didn’t have to move to go to AU, it fits my budget, it fits my schedule, and there’s flexibility.

If you were the new president of AU, what would be your first project?
I think I would find a way to encourage more contact between students.

If you were trapped on an island, what 3 things would you bring?
A book, a good bottle of wine, and a camera.

Describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people.
I have a knack for just figuring things out. I may be stuck for a while?with a query when analyzing data, for example?then the solution just comes to me at the oddest moment.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
Cherish every moment. You never know when It’s going to change.

What do you think about e-texts?
I haven’t had one yet with my courses, but I’m not too worried. In my iBook, I underline, highlight, and add notes. Because I travel with my job, having an e-text would be easier than lugging around textbooks.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?
On the whole It’s been really good; there’s been only one time when it was really slow getting a response.

Where has life taken you so far?
When I was a child, my family traveled a lot. My husband and I also continue to travel as often as we can. We typically bring our son with us as we believe it provides him with the opportunity to learn about the world by experiencing it. I’ve been to France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Venezuela, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Closer to home I’ve been out west to Vancouver, out east to PEI, and I’ve been to Montreal and Belleville. I’ve also had the opportunity to work in Chicago, San Francisco, Sacramento, Miami, Colorado Springs, and Washington State.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
I’m almost finished reading The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes. I recently read All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. And my next read is The GoldFinch by Donna Tartt.