Minds We Meet! – Interviewing Students Like You!

Yodelling with Sarah Joseph

Sarah Joseph is currently living in Calgary while attending AU. She’s been from coast to coast and lived in several different areas, including the NWT, and harbors a not-so-secret love of comic books and fantasy video games, and a more-so-secret love of Buzzfeed “Which _____ are you” quizzes. She says she once won a yodelling contest during Oktoberfest, kissed a fish in Newfoundland, and successfully cloned a llama, but admits that only two of those things are true.

What do you do like to do when you’re not studying?
I’m currently working part time for Alberta Health Services at an Ophthalmology clinic. So if I’m not studying psychology, I’m checking patients in for their eye exams and diagnostic testing. I also spend what free time I can afford binging Netflix shows and table top gaming with a good group of friends.

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
George R.R. Martin. Mostly because I’m pretty sure I could order the Nacho Supreme and he wouldn’t judge me for it. If he’s not available, then Cleopatra ? I’m a big admirer of her political prowess and am always looking for new makeup tips.

What would you describe as the proudest moment of your life?
I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. Although it was only a two year diploma, everyone made me feel very accomplished about seeing it through until the end. At my graduation, all of my family members came down to spend the night in the city I was studying in so they could attend my stage cross the next day. After I’m finished with Athabasca, I’ll be the first with a university degree as well.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
My mom, she has a dental assisting diploma and a medical office certificate. With just those she’s managed to work her way up the ranks to land not just a respectable position as an Analyst for Medical Affairs in AHS, but the admiration of her colleagues. She’s very smart and quick to learn, but all the time she could have spent broadening her education she instead spent working to provide for my brother and myself. I want to succeed for her just as much as I want to for myself.

Describe your experience with online learning. What do you like or dislike?
I won’t lie, it’s pretty great to roll out of bed and just start class in your PJs. Making your own schedule is also helpful. With that said, I do miss the classroom. I can’t speak of other majors, but psychology classrooms are often buzzing with discussion, ideas, offhand stories, and real-life examples tutors and students have lived. Online there’s very little of that (unless you happen to take a class that includes an online discussion forum) and I think it’s a big part of the learning process.

Have you had a time when you wavered about your education?
Probably more than I should admit. Last semester I struggled with working full-time and completing two higher level classes I wasn’t prepared for. I had plenty of late nights wondering if I made the right decision, and whether or not it would be better to just withdraw and move on with life. Ultimately, I decided I needed to try to see it through, as I truly love psychology and believe the struggle pays off in the end.

What was your most memorable AU course?
I’m only about 45% finished with my degree so I don’t have many under my belt, but I truly enjoyed Psychology In The Mass Media. It took a really in-depth look at how television, magazine ads, internet, and even radio influence our daily lives without many of us being any the wiser to it. Not that it’s always insidious in nature, but I think the average person would be surprised by how much the media holds sway over their conscious and unconscious choices.

What is most valuable thing in life to you?
Self-love, I think. When you have a healthy love and respect for yourself a lot of other things start to fall into place. It’s so much easier to form friendships, make healthy choices and see the value in struggle when the relationship you have with yourself is a healthy one.

What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?
I actually moved home to live with my mother so my rent wouldn’t be back-breaking, and I could afford to work part-time and focus on my studies. There a times I find it difficult, of course. Being 28 and sharing a small space with a parent can feel a little stifling at times. But I know I wouldn’t be able to pursue my dreams if I hadn’t made that choice. My mom does her best to encourage me and so I’m slowly learning to swallow my pride and do what needs to be done.

What’s the single best thing AU could do to improve your student experience?
I suppose I could suggest more classroom options for distance students, but that sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? Though maybe being able to Skype in to lectures could be a thing. Honestly speaking every time I’ve had to contact someone at AU they’ve always replied promptly and offered as much help as they were capable, and that’s what’s most important to me.

What is the most important lesson in life?
I think the one people forget the most is basic respect. Everyone has their own epic story outside of the minor parts they play in your life, and it’s important to remember that.

What’s something people don’t know about you?
I slept on the streets of LA twice. Both times I was in lines for rock shows that were general seating. Both times were probably the most interesting and inclusive experiences of my life so far.

E-texts or textbooks? Any particular reason(s)?
E-Text for SURE! I can carry like 15 e-texts around on my tablet, saved pages and all. No clumsy book markers or dog-eared pages. Have you ever tried carrying 15 text books in your arms? Not a good time.

How do you find the tutors?
So far they’ve been fabulous. If I’ve needed to reach out it’s very rare I don’t hear back by the end of the day, and never longer than two days. I find their critiques of my work honest and helpful without being condescending or coddling, which, in my eyes, makes for the best learning experience.

Where has life taken you so far? (travels for pleasure, work, etc.)
I’ve been all over Canada, and into the states on a few occasions. My favorite spots so far have been the beaches of Maui and the Haunted Mansion in Disneyworld.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Weirdness by Jeremy P. Bushnell