Heather Elizabeth is an AU student from Toronto, Ontario. Originally from near St Jacob’s , Ontario, Heather started two AU courses in September, after which she will be pursuing graduate studies.
Heather was recently interviewed by The Voice Magazine. Here’s what she had to say about school, Socrates, and sexuality.
Has Toronto always been home?
I moved to Toronto about seven or eight years ago. I’m originally from the St Jacob’s area. I have also lived in Brantford, where I studied at that city’s campus of Wilfred Laurier University, and I lived in London before moving to Toronto.
Are you in a program at AU?
No. I’ll be applying for grad school soon, in the hopes of becoming a registered psychotherapist. I needed a few courses for upgrading before going to grad school. I’m taking SOCI 301, Social Statistics, and SOSC 366, Research Methods in the Social Sciences.
You describe yourself as a “Sexuality Agitator, Educator, and Empowerment Coach.” Can you explain what that means?
As an Empowerment Coach, I help adults work through any blocks that are preventing them from having a fulfilling sex life. For example, I might coach someone on how to feel comfortable enough to ask their partner for what they want or need. Or perhaps someone had a strict religious background and now they’re an adult and don’t feel they have the tools to engage in the dating process?I can help them work through it. As an Educator, I help teach people how to open up the dialogue around sexuality. And as an Agitator, I’m just getting it out there to make it easy for people to talk about.
Describe the path that led you to AU.
It was really the flexibility. With an unpredictable daytime schedule and my coaching practice, I like that I can take the courses online while I’m living and working in TO.
What do you like to do when You’re not studying/working/coaching?
I love to read and, because of my coaching, I read a lot of books on sexuality and communication. I also like live theatre, and I like getting outdoors, whether It’s hiking or just sitting on a beach.
Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
Probably my father. Before he retired he was a university professor. I grew up in a household that valued education, both formal and informal. Dad was interested in best practices, and he would bring home books that described the best methods for just about everything, from communication to canoeing. My love of reading started early; we had lots of books around the house, including the classics.
What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
Socrates, definitely. I really like his dialectical approach to learning, and That’s stayed with me all my life. How do we know what we know? How do we know something to be true? How could this be false?
Have you had a time when you wavered about your education?
Absolutely. When I finished high school, I wondered “What next?” I contemplated perhaps taking a year off and then deciding what to do. My parents thought this idea was ridiculous. They lined up various testing for me, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, personality tests, and career testing. This was all designed to help me determine what I wanted to take in higher education.
Wilfred Laurier University (based in Waterloo) had just opened a satellite campus in Brantford. I went there and took my degree in Contemporary Studies?a perfect course of study for me because I’ve always been inquisitive about how the world works (the program is now known as Society, Culture, and Environment.) My father had suggested Laurier Brantford because they had created the program of contemporary studies specifically as an interdisciplinary program; meaning I didn’t have to limit myself to history or politics or philosophy. It turned out to be a great experience; It’s so much different on a small campus.
If you won $20 million in a lottery, what would you do with it?
I would invest in opening my dream space. It would be like some kind of community space with a sex-positive store, a living library, and a café. Just a comfortable space where people can gather to shop and talk?where discussions about sexuality are normalized.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a “superpower”, which one would it be?
Teleportation. I’ve been fortunate to have traveled, and teleportation would just make everything easier.
What is your most prized possession?
My mind. I like how it works, how it thinks and tackles things.
Please tell us something that few people know about you.
Most people would find this hard to believe, given what I do, but I struggle with anxiety, and I’m also very shy.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
It’s that we have agency. We can’t always control what happens but we can control what we do about it. I often refer back to a Terence McKenna quotation: “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up.”
What do you think about e-texts?
One of my courses has an e-text, and I’m going to print it out. I’m very tech-aware, but given my druthers, I’d prefer a hard copy book so I can make proper notes.
How do you find communications with your course tutors?
I haven’t started my course yet, but I did need to contact the course coordinator when I was choosing my courses. One had a prerequisite and I sent an e-mail describing my experience and situation, hoping to avoid taking an extra course. I got a prompt response back, and I was able to skip the prerequisite course. I was really impressed by how quickly they got back to me.
Where has life taken you so far?
I’ve been to a few places. I’ve lived in Canada, England, and Australia. And I’ve travelled to Gambia, on the west coast of Africa, across Australia, to Malaysia, and most of the east coast of the United States as well as California.
What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
I’m reading Sex From Scratch, by Sarah Mirk, and Radical Ecstasy by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy.