Minds We Meet—Lauren Canning

Lauren is a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technician in Winnipeg, Manitoba and is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science program at Athabasca UniversityIn her spare time, she loves meeting new people, exploring, playing sports, and going to ballet showsThis 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?

My name is Lauren Canning, and I work full-time as a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technician; I make life saving vaccines and I love my Job.  I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba which is the province I have lived in my entire life.  I grew up in small towns all over starting as far north as Gillam.  I moved to Winnipeg initially at eighteen years old to attend RRC for Applied Pharmaceuticals and knew what I wanted to do from there.

What program are you in? Do you like your program?

I currently am working on my Bachelor of Science through Athabasca University and I have been loving it!

Could you 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?

After college I thought I was done, then I met an amazing woman.  She changed my view on life, in the pharmaceutical industry there is a regulation that specifies you cannot move above an assistant, unless you hold a degree applicable to the job.  After many discussions with her, I decided that not having a piece of paper is not what was going to hold me back in life, I got this.

Any advice for people who are on the fence about going back to school?

Try it if you think you want more, what could it hurt.  Lifelong learning is amazing, this is a unique opportunity to accomplish something to be proud of or give it a try to know its not for you.  Sitting and never knowing is not me, so I encourage everyone to give it a go to see what they are capable of.

What do you do like to do for fun when you are not studying? Any hobbies?

I love experiencing what life has to offer and meeting new people.  I go to the park and listen to music, go to the ballet or shows, and I play sports (badminton, archery, and bowling) in a social league.

What are your plans for this education once you finish? What would be your dream job?

I will have my piece of paper that unlocks unlimited choices, so I am still working on that one, however, the more I talk about my job the more I realize I love it.  I get to train others on life saving technologies and help them be good at their jobs, it brings me lots of joy.

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

The amazing woman who I met the first day I started at this company (the reason I am taking this degree).  Her story inspired me to be the best version of myself.

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

Online learning and I have a love hate relationship.  I love the flexibility, the promptness in handing in assignments, the quick feedback.  Overall, I would say it is a positive experience, which is why I am still doing it.  However, I do find e texts challenging to sit to read on a screen, and my computer fights me because I am not the greatest with technology.

Was there a point where you waivered about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?

Last year, halfway through and I was taking a challenging course.  Life threw me a curveball; my sister got very ill, my brother made some very bad life choices, some of my favorite people passed away all at the same time, and work sent me for a course to do on my own time (400 hours).  Then, the course I was enrolled in was very challenging, I cried and decided I was too stupid to continue.

What caused it and what got you through it?

What got me through it was a mentor; simply put they told me I was amazing, and, if I gave up, I would regret it.  So, I picked my textbooks back up and continued my studies.  They were right.  Man, people are resilient and amazing.

What is your favorite AU course that you have taken so far, and why? Would you recommend the course to others?

SCIE 326 (Scientific Reasoning) was my favorite AU course, as it was easy for me to focus on.  The textbook was a great read and it was very relevant to what I enjoy learning.  Recommending is challenging.  It was great for me, but everyone is different.

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

University is a huge time investment, but it is totally worth it.  Sitting somewhere and reading a textbook instead of a novel does not bother me.  I am a big fan of lifelong learning, so this was all an investment in myself.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?

Communications are easy, prompt and I have always been able to get what I needed.

What is your biggest pet peeve, if you have one?

People not having time.  You always have time for what you truly want.  It might not be a lot and it might not be when someone asks, but if you really desire it, you have the time.  Life is not a straight line, but to me, without friends and family, nothing else is worth it, so when someone cannot make five minutes in a week or month, it gets on my nerves.  My closest friends and I make time each week because we are all important.

Describe the proudest moment in your life.

Finding out I am stronger than I think.  I am a huge planner; everything is planned and there are never any crazy surprizes.  Then, one day a couple of years ago I bought plane ticket to Australia that left in three weeks and nothing was planned.  After I booked the flight, I found out my passport was expired, and I needed a visa.  I realized then that I did not have WIFI on the plane so I could still not plan anything.  I landed in Sydney to stay for twenty-one days and I did not even know where I was staying that night.  I sunk into the seat of the airplane and thought to myself “what am I doing?” I gave myself a quick pep talk about how sulking is not going to fix anything, and I got up forced myself to find a Hostel.  I had fun.  This trip ended up being the best trip of my entire life and I learned what I was made of.  Also, I learned that things tend to workout, so I should not worry so much.

Could you describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people?

I love hearing other people’s life stories.  I find them inspiring and amazing.  I love when I am at my favorite coffee shop and a traveller interrupts me to ask if they can sit.  Then I put my book (well usually schoolwork) aside and listen to what they have to offer.  Stories of travel, life, and adventure.  Some of the most amazing and inspirational things I have heard are from these strangers just looking for somewhere to sit and drink their coffee.  I have tried it in reverse, joining others; the reaction is not always well received, it takes some courage and sometimes a thick skin to be able to go join a strangers table.

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

Biggest impact statement that stands out to me is “Sometimes you need to stop worrying about what others are doing and look at what you are doing”.  I used to be very reactive to situations, not always thinking and being very passionate about what my view was in the situation.  Then, when someone said this to me, I thought “wow”, it was a powerful statement.  When I am overwhelmed at work, I will just write this in my notebook.  Sometimes I do not have control of those around me, but am I also acting appropriately, or feeding the chaos.  This reminds me to be me, to respond to what is happening, not react.  This allows me to help everyone in the group look as good as they can, and if there is nothing, I can do about them, there is certainly something I can do about my own attitude.

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

I absolutely love to travel.  I have been to Greece, Italy, Australia, Dominican Republic, Canada (all of it east to west), Las Vegas, California, Ohio, Dakotas (so the US a bit).

Out of the places you have been to, which was your favorite and why?

My favorite places would be Australia because it was amazingly beautiful, and that trip taught me a lot about myself.  Second favorite would be San Diego, because my best friend moved there and its where I feel I need to be.

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