Minds We Meet – Interviewing Students Like You!

Colleen Doucette

Colleen Doucette is an AU student from Truro, Nova Scotia. She’s been a student at AU for 13 years, and is currently working towards a Certificate in Counselling Women.

Colleen was a candidate in the recent AUSU By-election, and was elected, garnering 722 votes?the most of any candidate. The Voice Magazine caught up with her just before the election results were announced. We interviewed Colleen about school, mind reading, and cozy mysteries.

You’re in Truro NS. Have you always lived there?
We just moved here a year ago so that my husband could follow a job opportunity. Previously we were in South Rawdon NS. Since I work in Dartmouth, I kept my same job.

Are you in a program at AU?
Right now I’m pursuing a Certificate in Counselling Women. I started my studies at AU 13 years ago. I obtained a Certificate in French Language Proficiency in 2011, and then a Diploma in Arts last year. Each 30 credits represents an achievement and will ultimately lead to a degree. Since I work full time I only take one AU course at a time, which is why I’ve been at it so long.

You’re an Intelligence Analyst for the RCMP. Is that as sexy as it sounds?
It isn’t. Really, you lose your innocence in this type of job. You may go into it with the idea that the world is an innocent, blissful place, but this work really opens up your eyes to the fact that the world can be a disgusting place, too. There are a lot of bad people out there. In my work, I’m analyzing behaviour patterns and giving support for investigators. It helps bring cases to an end.

Despite hearing and seeing things that break the “blissful bubble”, I find this work really worthwhile. Not only am I helping out in that capacity, but I’m learning about the range of behaviour that is out there. It makes me more cautious, and more protective; I think That’s a good way to be.

Describe the path that led you to AU.

I was living in Calgary at the time, 13 years ago. I love learning and reading and I wanted to continue my education. I was working full time, so the possibility of being able to work at my own pace really drew me in. It’s so convenient.

What do you like to do when You’re not studying?
Study! Seriously, I’m also a registered holistic nutritional consultant, so I have to educate myself about natural nutrition. I’m also constantly reading, and I like doing crafts, such as sewing, knitting, and crocheting.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
I would say my Dad. I grew up in a big family, with seven older brothers and one older sister. With that many brothers, there wasn’t really anyone who was going to help me! My dad was away a lot, but he’d come home with Dr Seuss books, or sticker books, or other educational books. I have good memories of putting together puzzles and listening to stories.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
Princess Diana. She was just a very graceful and compassionate person. Also Julia Child. (Okay, I know That’s two people.) Julia worked for the government and had a passion for cooking, so we have some similarities.

Describe your experience with online learning so far.
I love the fact that I can choose the times that I want to study. And I like making connections with other students, being able to post questions and get responses, and not feeling alone. What I dislike, if anything, is that some courses are just so difficult for the average full-time working student to complete. Courses need to be constructed with this in mind. Full-time workers, I would suspect, are the highest student demographic out there.

Have you had a time when you wavered about your education?
Yeah, just last year! I was working on WGST 266, Introduction to Women’s Studies. I was getting bogged down in the reading and couldn’t find much relevance in the women’s movement. Then I met some ladies in Truro who were lobbying against human sex trade trafficking. It was a turning point because it made me realize that what I was learning in the course was still relevant. I wouldn’t have continued that course except for that chance encounter.

What’s your most memorable AU course so far, and why?
It was a French course I took. I can’t remember which course it was now, but Dr Audrey O?Brien was the tutor. I love O?Brien; she was just amazing. She was super-knowledgeable and spoke in a beautiful voice. It made the course so great.

If you won $20 million in a lottery, what would you do with it?
I would definitely travel to places steeped in history, especially my family history. I’d like to explore my roots in Scotland, England, Ireland, and France, and stay in castles and enjoy the culture.

Have you given up anything to go to AU? Was it worth it?
I have not given up anything. AU allowed me to do something that I couldn’t otherwise do: study while working full time.

If you were the new president of AU, what would be your first project?
My first project would be to try and get more students involved. I’d like to create opportunities for students to know what’s going on. There currently isn’t enough engagement. It’s difficult for students because so many have full time jobs and other responsibilities, so I would love to hone in on my marketing background and come up with some great engaging ideas!

If you could wake up tomorrow with a “superpower,” which one would it be?
Mind reading. I’d like to be able to know what people are thinking.

What is your most prized possession?
My Mom’s 1961 Singer sewing machine. I made my very first sweat suit on it when I was in school. It’s a well-oiled machine and she really kept it up.

Please tell us something that few people know about you.
Well, I’m a volunteer field editor for Taste of Home magazine. I review recipes and also create and submit recipes. It allows me to share my love of cooking and baking.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
I think It’s just to wake up each morning and be grateful for everything. I’m grateful I’m waking up, and I’m grateful for what I have.

What do you think about e-texts?
I had one for Psychology of Women. I didn’t like using an e-text. I’d rather have a physical book that I can highlight, underline, and dog-ear. For the price we pay for courses, we should be able to get a real book.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?
Pretty excellent for the most part. One or two times I’ve had tutors who take a long time to get back to me. But other than those, my tutors have been really good.

Where has life taken you so far?
So far I’ve only been in Canada and the United States. I’ve been to every province, but I haven’t been to any territories yet. I’ve visited many states, including California, Nevada, Texas, and Vermont.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
I’m reading a cozy mystery called Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames. Cozy mysteries are part of a genre of crime mysteries that take place in small, everyday settings and make use of humour. This series by Aames, which began with Long Quiche Goodbye, weaves food into the theme, too.