Katie Bradley is a Councillor in the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association. Here we get to know one of our fabulous AUGSA councillors.
What brought you to AU?
I first took a course with AU in 2009 when I needed one 4th year communication credit to graduate a semester early from my undergrad at the University of Ottawa. Being in the last cohort to register, none was available. At the time I loved the self-directed nature and churned out the required 3 papers in about a month.
The second time was in August 2014 when I decided to apply for the Masters of Counselling program and needed some courses to meet the pre-requisites. Again, I loved the self-paced nature and often completed readings at lunch time or during slow times in my full-time job at SAIT. I had a lot of slow time.
Finally, I registered in first year of the Masters program in September 2016. I was in a work-from-home job by that point and suddenly I was interacting with other students online daily, yet I felt more alone than ever before. I have found my masters to be a truly transformative experience, but when you only ever interact with people via 100-200 word posts that are carefully worded, it can make you feel more lonely than ever before. I remember a few times reading comments and thinking, do they mean what I think they mean? Or, I don’t think this is what we’re supposed to think, but everyone is jumping on board, how do I handle this? I tried reaching out to a few people but our attempts to meet up failed. Finally, in May 2017 another person attempted to set up a group and I enthusiastically joined. It made all the difference. I had people I could relate to, people who understood the challenges, people who I could get immediate feedback from in-person. One year later, we still meet weekly for coffee and support. I now know a lot of other people in the program who I keep in touch with, and I’m more active in things like the Facebook AU group, because I know how tough it can be to not know the answer but have no one you can ask. In that sense, I love being at AU. The program gave me the flexibility I needed, but everyone is in the same boat, so there’s a lot of fellow feeling if you keep looking a group you can relate to.
What is the last book you read?
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, but I feel like that makes me seem like I read smarter stuff than I usually do. The second-last book I read was Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey, which is a lot more indicative of the type of reading I do.
What show do you think everyone should binge watch?
Call the Midwife. I’m currently on Season 4 and it’s a great balance between social commentary and interesting stories.
Why did you choose to run for AUGSA council?
Last year the AUGSA sent out an email asking for a volunteer to attend the CASA advocacy week in Ottawa. I worked at Parliament in my undergrad so I jumped at the chance to see it from the other side, so to speak. The experience was incredible. I loved seeing how organized a student organization could be, the messages they were conveying to Canada’s politicians, and I was inspired by all of the undergraduate student leaders who were there. They were all doing so much, some while still taking a full course load, and I had never tried any of that before, despite being interested in politics. I know that one of my strengths is being very articulate, so I thought that I would be a good representative of my peers, as well as a good learning experience for me to see a different type of politics than I have before. I’m thinking student politics will be a little more civil than my past experience.
What are your academic goals for 2018?
I’m very focused on my practicum right now, which starts in September. I got a placement—which was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be when I entered the program—so reality is coming a lot closer. That’s why I’m reading books like The Inconvenient Indian, I want to learn more about different populations, perspectives, and experiences before I begin seeing clients and theory becomes practice. Mostly, I want to learn as much as I possibly can, and hopefully help a few people along the way.
If you could have a meal with someone from history, who would it be?
That is a really tough one. It’s not very historical, but Jane Goodall, back in the 60s or 70s when she was knocking down walls about objectivity in science, not to mention for women and conservation efforts around the globe. I did a project on her in elementary school, and she’s been a favourite of mine ever since.
What is one thing you would like to complete personally in 2018?
I’m trying to learn to crochet. I’d like to really sit down and get a project going, rather than just trying different patterns and tearing them out again. I just haven’t had the time to pick something that I think I can actually finish.
Since being elected, what are your hopes for the 2018-2020 term?
It seems like the council and executive are a good mix of experienced and new voices. I think that everyone always wants to improve outreach and effective communication with students, which is so difficult in an online environment. I’d like to make the AUGSA more accessible from a policy perspective. When I was doing research during the election I noticed a few instances where published policy differed from the information we were given as candidates. I’d like to work on making sure that when documents are updated, they are updated everywhere, and that there is consistency across the board for when students need to access information.