Minds We Meet—Alison Rowney

Interviewing Students Like You

Alison Rowney lives in Alberta with her husband and her two-year-old daughter.  She is close to finishing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and she plans to eventually take a master’s degree at AU.  Her long term goal is to become a sports psychologist.  This is her story.

Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself? Who are you? Where do you live, where do you come from?

I’m Alison Rowney, I was born and raised on the East Coast and moved west after high school graduation for university.  After moving around a bit over the last 10 years my family and I have settled north of Calgary in Didsbury, Alberta.  I’m a stay at home mom of a little girl who just turned two.

Describe the path that led you to AU.  What was it that made you realize you wanted to go (back) to school, and what pushed you into the program you’ve signed up for?

I originally started at AU taking courses in the summer that I intended to transfer back to the University of Calgary where I was taking a science degree.  I had wanted to be a vet but, after taking zoology and doing some dissections, I knew it wasn’t for me and was struggling with what direction to move in.  I knew science didn’t feel like the right path for me so I ended up taking some time off school and focused on some self-exploration (that, to be honest, is ongoing!).  I started taking courses again a few years later to see what I was interested in and once I took PSYC 289 (Psychology as a Natural Science) I knew that was it.  I had long been interested in psychology and have had my own personal experiences with anxiety, and also witnessed people close to me be affected by mental illnesses, so it wasn’t a surprise.  I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology shortly afterwards and have approximately 10 courses until I’m done!

What do you do like to do when you’re not studying?

My husband and I are huge hockey fans and are currently spending a lot of time watching games and following the NHL.  I also love to read and stay active.  When the weather is warmer, we love hiking or taking the bikes out.

What’s your favorite hockey team?

I’ve been a huge Calgary Flames fan since I was a kid!

What are your plans for this education once you finish? How does it fit in with where you want to go?

My long term goal is to be a sports psychologist.  I will be pursuing a master’s degree and it will likely be through AU.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?

My mom has been a huge inspiration for me, she’s always been my biggest fan and so supportive in anything relating to my education.  And now being a mom myself, it’s important for me to be a positive role model for my daughter.  Everything I do is now a reflection of what I’d like her to apply in her own life.  If I want her to know that the sky is the limit, the best way I can do that is show her through my own actions.

Describe your experience with online learning so far.  What do you like? Dislike?

I’ve been very lucky so far in my experience with online learning.  It enabled me to ease back into the learning process slowly, while exploring my options and deciding on the program I wanted to pursue.  It enabled me to keep working full time so I could afford to live and pay for my education.  It’s enabled my husband and I to make two interprovincial moves and start a family without causing me to worry if I would have to transfer schools.  And it’s enabled me to continue my education while staying at home with my daughter.  Knowing I can pace myself and take life as it comes has really been a blessing, since I became a parent especially, but really throughout the whole process.  I do dislike the minimal interaction we have with tutors, although I’ve been blessed with some excellent ones.  And I miss the on-campus feel, access to resources and facilities, and being surrounded by like-minded people.  However for me, the pros of online learning certainly outweigh any potential negatives.

At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?

While working full time and working on school was challenging, I have found it far more challenging since I became a parent.  I am in awe of all the students who I know work and parent, as well as attend school.  With motherhood now coming first, my schoolwork sometimes gets neglected to the point where I feel like tossing in the towel.  But I keep on plugging away because I know if I don’t, I would always regret it.  The beauty of AU is that I know I can take the time I need.  While I wish I could work through my courses at a faster pace, when the time isn’t there it just can’t be done.  And that’s ok.

What’s your most memorable AU course so far, and why?

I’ve loved all my psych courses and there are a few I wish I could take again to be honest! But I think the most memorable experience I’ve had with a course would be WGST 303 (Issues in Women’s Health).  I found this course challenging because it was such a different approach from my other courses, and the assignments were very diverse.  After I finished the course I received an incredibly positive email from the tutor, the first time I’ve had that particular experience.  And I’ve found myself applying the skills and knowledge I learned in that course in both subsequent courses and my personal life.

What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?

Money, ha!  But seriously, nothing I can think of.  If anything, AU has enabled me to NOT have to give up on things to pursue an education.  If I was at a brick and mortar school at this point in my life, starting a family would have been more of a challenge.  Moving interprovincially wouldn’t have been possible.  Both times we moved, the time between the decision being made and the move happening was only a few months.  That sort of major transition wouldn’t have been possible if I was attending school on campus and unable to relocate at will.

What’s your pet peeve if you have one?

Trying to have a conversation with someone who is glued to their phone.  Smart phones are both a blessing and a curse.  We are in the midst of a connection paradox to be sure.  We can reach anyone, anywhere, at any time, and yet a lot of times people engage on their phones instead of having a meaningful conversation with the people around them.  It’s fascinating how quickly these little devices have taken over our lives!

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?

I’ve come across this question before and always have a hard time answering.  There are so many brains I would love to pick.  But right now I would have to say Ron MacLean.  The history and little facts he knows about the sport of hockey always amaze me and I would love to hear more of his stories.

Describe the proudest moment in your life.

Hands down, having my daughter.  And in reflection, overcoming a difficult post-partum time.  I was very unprepared for the emotional roller coaster after having my daughter.  I realized just recently how far I’ve come when I found myself laughing at an experience that at the time, had been one of my darkest moments.  And that’s the thing about life, sometimes the ups and downs are only recognized by how they relate to other periods of our lives.

Describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people.

I don’t have Facebook.  Or Instagram.  Or twitter.  I found that when I had Facebook, it wasn’t serving a positive purpose in my life and wasn’t a good use of my time.  I deleted my account seven years ago and have no regrets!

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that if something isn’t working in your life or you’re unhappy for any reason, change IS possible.  My husband and I have had a few whirlwind years and when we look at all that has happened in the span of only about four years, it’s just crazy.  But it’s enabled us to become very proactive in that we know that we have some control over our circumstances.  And when things happen that you can’t control, you find ways to adapt.  And I’ve learned to value authenticity, both in others and in how I conduct myself as well.

Have you travelled? Where has life taken you so far?

I’m proud to say I’ve visited ever province in Canada and lived in 5 different provinces, although I haven’t been to the territories yet.  I’ve driven across Canada once and it’s on my bucket list to do it again.  I’ve also been to Hawaii and the Caribbean.  My husband and I were married in Jamaica!

What was it like driving across Canada? What did you do? What were your favorite provinces to visit?

Driving across Canada was incredible and exhausting.  The country is so diverse and beautiful.  We did it too quickly to do much exploring so the next time I do it, I’d like to take some time in each province and really see the sights.  I was born in Newfoundland and always love to visit.  It’s so breathtakingly beautiful and just such a wonderful place.  I also loved Vancouver Island.

What (non-AU) book are you reading now?

I’m guilty of always having multiple books on the go, even though I rarely have time to read and take months to finish them.  Right now I’m revisiting some favourite authors so a couple of the books I’m working on are War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and a book of short novels by Stephen King.  I’m also working through the Game of Thrones series (2 years and counting) and started reading through Hemingway’s novels for the first time.

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