Donna Canfield hops between BC and Alberta while taking her studies. She is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of General Studies program and hopes to eventually be a police officer, a SWAT team agent, or an DEA agent. 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? What program are you in? Do you like your program?
My name is Donna Canfield, I live in Edmonton, Alberta and Sicamous, British Columbia. I travel between the two houses and I’m completing the Bachelor of General Studies program. So far, I’m loving the options that I have in my program and I am really enjoying the courses I’m taking right now! University has been very different from high school for me, in a good way.
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?
When I was in grade ten, I left public high school to complete all of my schooling online. I wanted to be able to travel and spend time away from the classroom, and I discovered that I learn really well on my own without much help. I’ve always wanted to go to university, and AU was a perfect option for me as I could travel and get an education.
Any advice for people who are on the fence about going back to school?
I would advise anyone who is considering returning to post-secondary to follow their gut feeling and do what would make them happy.
What do you do like to do when you’re not studying? Any hobbies?
In the winter, I snowmobile a lot and, in the summer, I spend a lot of time on the boat and I also enjoy dirt biking. Living in both Alberta and British Columbia gives me a lot of opportunities to try new things and meet new people. I also enjoy exercising and painting when I’m taking a break from studying, it helps to release any stress and improve my mood.
What are your plans for this education once you finish?
I am hoping to finish my bachelor’s degree and hopefully apply for a masters in something. I have a lot of education in occupational health and safety so I would like to work as an OH&S officer for a few years, but ultimately, I’d like to pursue a career in criminal justice or psychology.
What would be your dream job?
My dream job would definitely be a police officer, SWAT team or DEA agent. I think it would be rewarding to help others and protect people from danger.
Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
My mom has always encouraged me to continue my education and go to university. She was very smart in high school and college and she went on to become an amazing nurse. She was always there to help me with my school work if I needed it and she always supported me no matter what I was doing.
Describe your experience with online learning so far. What do you like? Dislike? Why?
As I mentioned, I started online learning in grade ten and I like it a lot better than classroom learning. I learn better on my own and I work through courses very quickly. I started my degree about seven months ago and I already have over fifty credits. Sometimes, it gets lonely working on courses all by myself, which is the only part I don’t like about it. I manage to find lots of time to spend with my friends and family though.
At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?
I never questioned my choice to go back to school. I graduated high school six months early and I always knew that I would go to university in the following winter. I like learning about new things, and I value my education a lot.
What’s your favorite AU course that you have taken so far, and why? Would you recommend the course to others?
PSYC 350 (Adolescent Psychology) has been my favorite course. As an adolescent myself, it was interesting to learn about our brains and how we function, and also the influence that others have on us. It was also interesting to learn about other cultures and how adolescents differ in other countries. I would definitely recommend this course to others.
What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?
The traditional “high school and university experience”, and every bit of it was worth it. I don’t have to sacrifice my evenings and nights to write an essay that’s due the next day, and if I don’t feel like studying, I don’t have to. I have lots of time for my family and friends, and I can enjoy my life while still getting an education. All of my other university friends complain about how stressed and tired they are, and I really can’t relate, which is a good thing.
How do you find communications with your course tutors?
I like to learn by myself, so I hardly ever contact my tutors. When I do, they are very responsive and answer any questions I have. If I felt like I was stuck and really needed their help, I feel like I could rely on them. Most of them are really friendly and you can tell that they enjoy their jobs.
What’s your pet peeve if you have one?
People who lack motivation for simple tasks and would rather not do anything at all than do a satisfactory job. I once heard from someone that anything worth doing is worth doing an adequate amount of work instead of striving for perfection. If you have an essay due that you have no idea how to start, you don’t just give up, at least try to write something and get half points. So many people are so unmotivated, and I think it’s becoming a problem for employers and professors.
What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
I would want to meet Robin Williams. I have been told by many people that I have a great sense of humour and I can see the good parts in everything, and I think it would be interesting to share that with and speak with the funniest person of all time. He was such a knowledgeable, wise man and he always seemed so happy, which is the kind of person I try to be. It’s a good reminder to others to make sure your friends are okay and help them through any tough times.
What has been the proudest moment in your life?
Receiving my high school diploma six months early when I considered dropping out in grade 9. I didn’t like classroom learning and I wanted to quit, which is why I’m so glad that I found online learning and was able to make it work for myself. Without online learning and AU, I would have a really limited education. I worked so hard for my diploma and I was so proud that I finally made it when I received the diploma in the mail.
Describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people.
I don’t struggle with deadlines at all. I’ve always finished my courses and assignments at least four months early and I can finish assignments very quickly. I like reading and writing, so I don’t have any issues with course extensions or deadlines. I am really proud of myself motivation and the discipline I have to be able to meet every single deadline.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
Any education at all is very important and valid. It doesn’t matter if you’re completing a certificate, one-month course, diploma or a PhD., any education is something to be proud of and no one should feel bad about the courses they have taken. It’s so important to learn and strive for success. Those who have some form of education should be proud of themselves and value the knowledge they have.
Have you traveled? Where has life taken you so far? Out of the places you have been to, which was your favorite and why?
I’ve been to several of the states in the US, also Mexico and the Dominican Republic. My favorite place that I’ve visited was Seattle. I liked seeing the big city and meeting a whole bunch of new people in a large city and seeing how successful the educated ones were. It’s my dream to save a lot of money and live in a big city with no financial issues. I’d love to save enough money to live comfortably and spend money on the luxuries, and a lot of people in Seattle pursue that lifestyle.
What non-AU book are you reading now?
Goodnight Stranger by Miciah Bay Gault.
Could you describe the book? Would you recommend the read?
It’s about a family who has a stranger show up at their house and claim that he is their younger brother. The family has to find out if he’s real or not. I’m really enjoying the book right now because I like mystery and crime novels. I would definitely recommend it to those who are also interested in novels of those genres.