Minds We Meet—Fiona Nanke

Fiona Nanke lives in southern Alberta with her husband and three little girls where she takes her Bachelor of Public Administration program from AU with a major in Governance, Law, and Management.  She recently took some time to talk to the Voice Magazine about who she is and her journey so far.

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 Fiona.  I live in a small hamlet in southern Alberta.  I’ve lived in southern Alberta almost my entire life.  I was born in England but have been here since I was two years old.  I am married and have three little girls.

What program are you enrolled in?

I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Public Administration majoring in Governance, Law, and Management program.

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 Bachelor of Public Administration program?

I went back to work after having my second daughter and decided I did not want to do what I was doing anymore.  I took one class and then suffered a horrific concussion.  I had another baby and after returning to my job after maternity leave, my role had completely changed to something I did not agree with.  So, I applied for student loans and here I am now, two years later!

Do you have any advice for people who are on the fence about going back to school?

My biggest piece of advice is to follow your intuition and find people who are in your corner.  Because it’s hard, but worth it.

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

I love to read.  We are quite an outdoorsy family, so we spend a lot of time camping.

Do you have any favorite hobbies?

I love archery!

What are your plans for this education once you finish?

Relax for a month or so, reconnect with the world!  I want to one day work as a policy developer for the federal government.

Is there anyone in your life that has influenced your desire to learn?

My nana.  I know that seems cliché, but she is a pillar of strength and education.  The one person to always rooted for me and pushed me to do better in everything I do.  She was a school principal, so education is huge to her.

Could you share your experience with online learning so far? What do you like?

It’s been quite the learning curve.  I love that I can work on my own time, and at my own pace.  I also love that it has given me the ability to be at home with my young children while still completing my degree.

Is there anything that you found that you dislike?

The only thing I disliked was the language course I took.  I found it extremely hard to understand and learn without being in a classroom speaking the language.  I would never take a distance language class again.

What is your favorite AU course that you have taken so far, and why?

I loved INST 301 (Indigenous Education).  The content was so well put together and all of the readings were so well chosen.  My tutor was amazing, and I just loved learning about traditional knowledge.

Would you recommend that course to other students?

I firmly believe that indigenous education should be a mandatory piece of the public educational system in Canada and I would absolutely recommend this course.

Have you given up anything to attend AU? Was it worth it?

A full-time job with amazing benefits and financial stability.  I regret it because it has been extremely difficult to stay afloat.  Was it worth it? Yes, but if I could do it again, I would have done part-time funding and stuck with my job.  However, my future is brighter.  I’ve spent two wonderful years gaining an education and raising my babies.  So, no I don’t regret it, I just have looming student loan debt that terrifies me.

How have you found communications with your course tutors?

Most of them have been fantastic; easy to connect with and a wealth of information.  I have had two that were difficult to contact, and they did not provide any help, and or just did not ever return emails.

Do you have any pet peeves?

Not getting assignment back within the expected 10-day turnaround.  I’m still waiting on a few assignments I submitted in May!

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

Oprah! Again, I know completely cliché, but I would love to sit and have a conversation with her.  To talk about everything and knock down the celebrity and just the real person, she fascinates me.

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

I am ridiculously adaptable and flexible.  Meaning I am honestly the easiest going person I’ve ever come in contact with.  I do not get stressed out and I stay extremely calm in crazy situations.

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

To be humble and appreciate all that is given to you in life.

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

Yes, I recently went to México and Jamaica.  I also spent a summer in southern Ontario and another summer on the Oregon coast.

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

Honestly my favourite was the Oregon coast.  Everyone needs to go there.  It is absolutely beautiful!

What (non-AU) book are you reading now? Could you describe the book? Would you recommend it?

I just finished Amish Celebrations by Beth Wiseman.  It is a fantastic collection of four short novels.  I am fascinated by the Amish way of life.  The book was very entertaining, and I would recommend it.  Next up is The Night Circus.  It looks like it should be a good read.

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