Kristina Anderson, a full-time flight attendant, is currently enrolled in the Human Resources and Labour Relations program at Athabasca University from her home in Calgary. She was kind enough to wing a few answers to our interview of her for The Voice Magazine.
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 Kristina Andersen and for the past twenty-seven years I have lived in Calgary. I was born in Toronto but have lived most of my life in Alberta. I attended eleven schools in seven towns, the last being St. Mary’s in Taber, Alberta. I am a single mom and a full-time flight attendant.
What program are you in? Do you like your program?
I am currently enrolled in the Human Resources and Labour Relations program and I am enjoying the courses I am working through.
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 enjoy learning. I try to always have something new on the go, something I haven’t read about or thought of doing. Years ago, after spending hours chatting about World War II battles, planes and politics, a pilot I was working with asked how I could do my flight attendant job without becoming bored. I told him that I always had something going on outside of the aircraft. I always had something new I was learning, even though it was unstructured and (possibly) only interesting to me. I decided to do something more formal and, after having worked in the airline business for so many years, to try something that would allow me to combine my experience with people, planes, and problem solving. Human resources and Labour relations seemed like a good fit.
Any advice for people who are on the fence about going back to school?
For people who are on the fence about going back to school I would say: what is holding you back? Do you like where you are? Do you enjoy your job? Is there something better out there for you? Think about what you can achieve and be positive! Like Jan Levingston-Gould from The Office says, “There are always a million reasons not to do something.” Get organized, make a schedule and do it.
What do you do like to do when you’re not studying? Any hobbies?
When I am not studying or working, I like to read, go play at the park with my son, wander around Fish Creek Park and Canmore.
What are your plans for this education once you finish? What would be your dream job?
My dream job would be as Apple’s director of human resources (in London). Realistically, I would like to stay in aviation, but in a Human Resources role.
Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
Probably my dad. He loved learning new things and never thought you were too old to do so.
Describe your experience with online learning so far. What do you like? Dislike? Why?
I enjoy it, for the most part. It works so well with my schedule and with the type of job I have. Sometimes it can be hard when a question pops up and I cannot get an immediate answer, or when a tutor takes more than a month to mark something and get it back to you.
At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?
I wavered thinking about the time I would be taking from my son, but I developed a pretty good schedule through trial and error and now we are both pretty good with the balance.
What’s your favorite AU course that you have taken so far, and why? Would you recommend the course to others?
I like History, but I have really enjoyed IDRL 215 (Introduction to Labor Relations). I find it very interesting.
What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?
I have given up the freedom a ‘flying sked’ gives me. Usually, I have twelve to fourteen days of free time a month, but most of these are now taken up with studying.
How do you find communications with your course tutors?
Most of the time it is pretty good, except for the one guy who never emails me back or returns my assignments. I have no idea what is going on there.
What’s your pet peeve if you have one?
Adults who interrupt me during my study time, and bad table manners.
What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
It would have to be Jesus. I would want to find out what is what and whether anyone has gotten it right.
Describe the proudest moment in your life.
The security guard at my son’s school told me that my little guy was spending his recesses picking up litter on the playground. My son said he did not want the little kids or animals to get hurt or sick from the trash. He was seven years old. What a guy!
Could you please tell us something that few people know about you?
I think I am a big nerd. Not a lot of flight attendants tote around Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. I love that stuff. Not many people know I’m a pretty good (5’4″) basketball player or that I’m scared of heights (I hate Ferris wheels!).
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
Appreciate the everyday things and make the best of any situation you may find yourself in.
Have you traveled? Which was your favorite?
I’ve traveled to a lot of places! The most meaningful one to me was a trip to PEI I took with my Mom and son. After my dad passed away, I paid for my mom to come with me and my son to the East Coast. It was not a very exciting time, but it was beautiful and peaceful and just what we all needed.
What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
I am reading Hitler, Mussolini and Me by Charles Davis.
Sounds different, what’s it about?
It’s about an Irish ex-pat who takes Hitler and Mussolini on an art tour in 1938. When his daughter finds a picture of him with the two fascists in 1968, he goes through his tale of that day. An ordinary guy caught up in an extraordinary moment.