Minds We Meet—Kristen Charest

Kristen Charest is thirty-two years old working as an Educational Assistant.  Enrolled in the Bachelor of Professional Arts program at Athabasca University with a major in Human Services, she shared with The Voice Magazine her favorite course and her experience so far with online learning.

Could 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 Kristen Charest, I am thirty-two years old, and I am currently working as an Educational Assistant in Battle River School Division.  My husband and I live in Camrose County, Alberta on twenty-five acres near the Battle River.

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

I am enrolled in the Bachelor of Professional Arts program at Athabasca University with a major in Human Services.  I am loving the program I am taking because it is so applicable to my work.

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 Professional Arts in Human Services program?

I have worked as a nursing assistant and an educational assistant and it has always been a lifelong goal of mine to finish my degree.  Life circumstances made it difficult to complete this goal within my ideal time frame.  Athabasca University has made it possible for me to complete university courses wherever I was living in the country.  I chose Human Services because it is applicable to my working background!

What do you do like to do when you’re not studying? Do you have any hobbies?

When I am not studying, I love reading, especially biographies.  I am also a runner and compete in road and trail races.  I love to spend time catching up with friends by going for walks and drinking tea.

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

My dream job is to work alongside people and help them achieve their goals.  I would be working in an area where I can make a visible difference in the lives of people through empowering them to recognize their own potential.  I’m not sure what environment that will be in.  If it is in a school, outreach center, church or overseas.  I am hoping as I continue my education my career path will become clearer.  Some options I have considered is special education, occupational therapy or counseling!

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

Mr. Reid was one of my math teachers in high school.  Through his enthusiasm, joy, and kindness he sparked inside me the love of learning!

Could you describe your experience with online learning?

I love online learning.  The flexibility to study at my own pace and schedule my own exams has really been wonderful.  My tutors have also been wonderful to work with.  The university has been so helpful every step of my journey.  I have been nothing but impressed with Athabasca University.

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

I am currently taking PHIL 231 (Introduction to Philosophy: West and East).  It is interesting to read the perspectives of Plato and Confucius, whom I have heard of all my life, and now I am learning why.

Would you recommend PHIL 231 to other students?

I would.  I found it to be challenging and thought provoking.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?

Communications with my course tutors has been good.  I have always received a response within a few days and if I was unable to contact them during their scheduled phone availability, they have gotten back outside of those hours.

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

When listening to music and a song is cut short.  Like at the end of a car ride and the radio is turned off in the middle of the song.  I love hearing the music until it is finished.  Sometimes the ending is the best part!

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

To love others.  1 John 4:17

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

I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit.  Most recently, I visited my dear friends in Bulembu, Eswatini.  They moved their family there to volunteer in the Orphanage for two years.  We were able to see the work that God is doing there.

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

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle.  It’s a memoir of overcoming an extremely difficult childhood and early adult years to becoming an indigenous scholar.  It’s a powerful story of hope and resilience and I would definitely recommend this book!