Presidential Interview – AUSU

The last time we talked to the AUSU President was just before the Council held its by-election. This week, Scott Jacobsen has a more personal interview into what makes AUSU President Shawna Wasylyshyn tick.

What is the story prior to becoming an Athabasca University (AU) student?
I had a successful career as a District Sales Manager for a company I loved! I realized that the chances of moving forward from that position or transitioning to a similar one without a business degree were slim, and then I found AU! I had been studying political science online through the UofS, but transferred to the Faculty of Business at AU and enrolled in the Bachelor of Management program.

What are the reasons for choosing AU over other universities for you?
Flexibility. I have had 3 children since becoming a student at AU and I was able to take full courses while on maternity leave. AU allows me to balance all of the priorities in my life while completing my studies. I am able to continue with my studies while supporting my family and juggling all of my responsibilities!

What tasks and responsibilities come with leadership of the Athabasca University Student Union (AUSU)?
The list of tasks and responsibilities in student leadership are much too long to list here! The responsibility is something I take very seriously. On a daily basis, I am required to be the voice of over 25,000 students and ensure that voice is heard. Often, it means asking tough questions, and at times I have to be more forceful than I like. It’s not easy to walk into a room full of University Administration who are all saying the same thing, and be strong enough to speak up and inform them that students disagree with them. Thankfully, I’m not easily intimidated and I am inspired by the knowledge that AUSU members trust in me to speak on their behalf.

What is the experience of being a working mother of three, and one step-child, while a student?
It’s busy! The key to my success is to stay organized. Planning ahead is very important and sticking to the plan is essential. I plan everything from meals, kids activities, studying and work. With that said, I have learned to accept that sometimes the plan has to go out the window because a child may get sick or an emergency could come up at work. It’s a constant balancing act.

Any insights into the differences for working-student mothers compared to working mothers, student mothers, or stay-at-home mothers?
When You’re a Mom, your kids come first. Mothers are always faced with the challenge of how to realize their own dreams, while encouraging the dreams of their children. I always say that every Mom is a working Mom, the difference is whether or not you get paid! Involvement of other parents and grandparents and the ages of children are big factors in the amount of studying a Mom can get done as well. I got a lot more studying done when I had one baby who napped all the time! Now that my children are aged 5, 3 and 2 ? it is a lot more difficult to find quiet pockets of time to sit down and study.

Any advice for aspiring students, student-mothers, or working-student mothers with political interests?
My advice to all students is to set a goal, and make a plan to achieve it. Be willing to accept that you may face roadblocks along the way to your goal, but don’t give up. Theodore Roosevelt said “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty? I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

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