Minds We Meet – Interviewing Students Like You!

Abra Diesbourg is an AU student from Edmonton AB. She is in the Bachelor of Professional Arts ? Governance, Law and Management program.

The Voice Magazine recently interviewed Abra by e-mail, and here’s what she had to say about school, martial arts, and finally having time to read (non-text) books.

First of all, whereabouts do you live? And have you always lived there?
I grew up in London, Ontario, and moved to Edmonton, Alberta, when I was 18. Currently I live in Edmonton.

If you work, describe what you do.
I have a Legal Assistant Diploma from Grant MacEwan University. I work as a paralegal mostly in estate and corporate law, although I do some work in other fields.

Describe the path that led you to AU.
I was at the end of my Legal Assistant diploma when I realized that I wanted to do something more with my life than just work in the private sector. I did some research on job opportunities with a non-profit organization that I loved and I realized that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector. Looking at the Grant MacEwan website I found that my diploma would be transferrable to the BPA-GLM program at Athabasca which has been the exact program I was looking for and more.

What do you do like to do when You’re not studying?
I teach martial arts and I like to read (although I haven’t had much time for anything other than textbooks lately), snowboard, and generally just spend time with friends and family. I also volunteer for a great organization called the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

What is the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, and what do you do there?
The JHC is a non-profit organization that promotes peace and human rights with the community through a number of educational programs and activities. They provide a number of programs that encourage youth to be human rights leaders within their schools and their communities, as well as being involved in a number of events that foster community collaboration to deal with social issues such as bullying, discrimination and poverty.

I have been working with the JHC mostly as a general volunteer and specifically with their fundraising, by helping with the organization of fundraising events and the promotion of the JHC in the community.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
Malala Yousafzai. She is such a positive role model for the younger generation. The fact that she has not only stood up for her rights and the rights of others by putting her life on the line, but has spoken at the United Nations and been nominated for a Nobel Prize at her young age is inspiring. She is also so well spoken and has a understanding that is well beyond her age.

Describe your experience with online learning. What do you like? Dislike?
My experience with online learning has been interesting! Being the first time I have done correspondence it has had a learning curve. I am FINALLY getting the hang of everything and I only have two courses left to graduate! Not being able to have classroom discussions and get other people’s opinions has been one of the downsides to online learning. However, online learning has provided me with the ability to continue to work full time while obtaining a degree.

What was your most memorable AU course?
My most memorable AU course would have to be WGST 422 Violence Against Women. It is a great course that challenges you to think differently about global issues. The subject matter is hard to read, and I did have to take a break from the course for a couple days during some units, but overall the course was so worthwhile.

If you won $20 million in a lottery, what would you do with it?
If I won $20 million in a lottery I would pay off all my debt, give money to charity, set up my parents so that they wouldn’t have to work any longer, and travel the world!

What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?
Over the last two years I have given up a lot of my free time, including time that I would spend with my boyfriend, in order to complete my degree at AU. My boyfriend has been so supportive throughout the whole experience and even though I’m happy It’s almost over, the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming.

Please tell us something that few people know about you.
I am a multiple world champion martial artist, and I received my black belt on February 25.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
So much time and energy is wasted on holding grudges and revenge. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to forgive often.

What do you think about e-texts?
I have not had the pleasure of dealing with e-texts, but I have had some courses that were online reading intensive. I like hardcopies of everything. For me it makes it easier for me to remember what I have read or to go back to something I want to re-read. We rely on technology too much and e-texts are no different.

Where has life taken you so far?
Life has provided me with many opportunities to travel globally. In the last couple years I have been to Ireland, Spain, Cuba, Portugal, and Italy. Currently we are preparing for an overseas move to Australia for me to complete my post-grad.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
I haven’t read a non-AU book in the last two years! I am looking forward to completing my program at the end of March so that I can finally get to the mountain of books that I have put off in lieu of text books. Number one on my list is And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. He is a beautiful writer.