Diana Longman recently finished her Bachelor of Professional Arts: Communications degree through AU. Born in Fort McMurray, she has lived in Spruce Grove, Alberta, a small city just outside of Edmonton since she was a small child. She enjoys travelling far distances and has been lucky to travel to New Zealand, Japan, and many places in the United States. She strongly suggests feeding the travel bug when opportunity presents itself to open your eyes in so many ways.
What has your post-secondary journey looked like?
Oh, well, I could go on for a lengthy amount of time describing my university life between my first year of university at MacEwan to finishing at Athabasca. To save everyone the novel, I’ll summarize. In 2014, I completed the Legal Assistant diploma at MacEwan University. Realizing that Athabasca offered me an opportunity to apply my diploma, I began my two-and-a-half-year journey to completing my degree while working. It was a struggle from time to time, but, despite the struggles, completing my degree has given me an immense amount of satisfaction.
What’s the hardest choice you’ve had to make as an AU student?
There wasn’t any one decision that was harder than the other. It was the daily decisions. Rain checks with friends, understanding when to have a break and when to push through, all those little decisions. I am incredibly blessed to have friends and family who understood and supported me even when I had to prioritize school over quality time.
What has been your favourite or most memorable AU course?
I think my favourite courses were my creative writing courses, particularly creative essay writing. While I had enjoyed writing creatively in my spare time, it was interesting doing the so in an academic setting. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed writing short form essays.
Who in your life has been the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
My grandmother, the ultimate “cool lady”. I’ve had support from my friends and other family members but my grandmother has such a passion for lifelong learning that I found that when I needed the strength, I remembered how proud she was of me. At 84 she made the long trek up from Calgary to attend my convocation!
What parts do you like about online learning through AU?
I appreciated being able to work at my own pace. I am a true procrastinator through and through so distance education allowed me to skip often lengthy and sometimes pointless lectures held at brick and mortar institutions and focus on what was important.
On the flip side of what I enjoyed most about AU, I felt a touch unconnected to my tutors. While they were always available to answer any questions that I had, not having the chance to meet them in person made the distance feel much larger.
Describe your relationship with AU tutors:
They were lovely, supportive and available when I had any questions or concerns. I wish I had the opportunity to meet with them face to face as they were often incredibly interesting people.
How do you motivate yourself when it comes to studying?
Equal parts focusing on the end goal and panic!
Do you have a study spot? What makes it your best place to focus?
My cubicle at work became my haven for studying. While I did/do have a dedicated workspace at home for studying, I found being able to separate school from home was key for my anxiety. Work and schoolwork occupy the same space in my mind so dovetailing them became second nature.
What is your mantra in life?
The difference between you and the most successful people you know is the recognition of opportunity. Hard work, discipline, and commitment play a large part in completing a goal but understanding when an opportunity has presented itself is just as important.
What is your favorite book and why should everyone read it?
Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson is a wonderfully in-depth biography of one of the most enigmatic business men of our time. What made the book particularly compelling was how it did not shy away from how manipulative, condescending, and often unpleasant Jobs could be while, at the same, recognizing the importance of his role in modern computing. Even if you are not interested in computers, I highly recommend it as a character study of a highly unique individual.
What is your third favorite movie? Why?
Oh jeez, tough question. I would have to say Hot Fuzz. It’s a fantastic satire of over the top American action movies through the lens of dry British humour. There is something truly in it for everyone!
Book or movie ? which is better? Why?
Whew! Asking a communications major that puts you at risk for lengthy discussion! I would say it depends. Quality trumps the medium, in opinion. Both books and movies are forms of art so it completely depends on your preference.
Laura Nelson is a marketing analyst by day and a bibliophile by night. She is in her final stages of completing her BA with a major in English through AU.