The Voice Magazine will be regularly featuring upcoming and recent AU grads, as well as alums. If you would like us to showcase your journey in an upcoming article, feel free to reach out! This month, we were able to catch up with recent alum Anne Turner.
Anne Turner from Nanaimo, British Columbia, recently graduated from the AU’s Master of Arts: Interdisciplinary Studies (MA-IS) program in April 2019, with the distinction of being the first in her family to obtain a master’s degree.
Anne’s journey to AU may be familiar to many students. She stated, “I had attended a few other university and colleges before arriving at AU to take my master’s program. Two experiences with independent studies and working from home prepared me for the studies offered at AU. I had raised a family, and my children were grown up and living on their own, and I was a retired woman seeking higher education.” She continued, “I chose AU as I needed a change from the traditional university setting, which I had attended for twelve years while working and obtaining my BA degree with a major in History and a minor in Sociology. I also needed a break from being around a lot of people who did not really understand my need for quietness and solitude. I needed to complete my work on my own terms. I needed a place where I did not have to leave the house on cold rainy West Coast mornings and AU was able to assist me in this way.”
Anne would definitely “recommend this program to other students who want to make a statement about topics that they are passionate about. My favourite part was the choices you could make in how you could prove your research capabilities. This was made possible for me in the final thesis paper MAIS 701 rather than the group activity.” Her favourite course was “PSYC 589 Learning Disabilities Issues and Interventions. I enjoyed this course because as a Person with Learning Disabilities I was able to read about some of the early theorists in the Learning Disabilities field and learn where they obtained their rationale for the services that are offered to present day students. It was also a valuable resource that I used towards my master’s thesis paper.”
When asked about her proudest moments, Anne revealed, “I am most proud of my master’s thesis paper that was written with the express interest in the field of Disability Studies, which was one of my focus areas within the MAIS program. The title of my paper was The Effects of Normalizing Post Secondary Institutional Practices and Social Relations on Students with Disabilities Who Have Multiple Disabilities and Complex Identities. I wrote this paper with the hopes it would help university and college professors and administrators in Canada, for students who have the dream of obtaining university studies to learn what their rights were as students, and for the university and college administration to understand the variety of needs and accommodations that students with disabilities are entitled to have when attending universities or colleges.”
Anne kept motivated through a regimented work and study scheduling, reveling “I kept a very strict regimented study and work schedule while I was working on course content and the two years it took me to complete the final thesis paper. My inspiration came from following my personal schedule of making sure I ate at regular times, I got lots of time away from the computer, and did some relaxing time with my paints and my twice daily meditation. My inspiration also came in the form of twice weekly visits with my professional tutor who worked with me to assist me with my explicit learning issues. This individual was a life saver for me on many occasions when I did not think I would be able to continue with the MAIS program. I also have to thank my two children and my other family members for believing in me that I could accomplish this major educational achievement despite all my learning disabilities and other related health problems.”
As for current AU students struggling, Anne advises finding “something to keep them grounded like the meditation that I employed every day and every night before I went to bed while working on my courses at AU. Also to remember to take breathers and step completely away from their work for a certain period of time each day. Also if you are a student with a documented disability to please register with the Disability Service Office at AU well before you start your studies so you can be acquainted with their staff and they can give you the help you are entitled to as a student with disabilities.”
For future students considering online education, Anne advises, “learn as much as you can about working on your own and learning how to schedule your time and to use it wisely. Make sure you read all the information that is contained in your course packages and ask questions well in advance before deadlines to your course instructors or tutors.”
Although she has graduated, Anne still feels connected to AU, stating, “I still feel connected with the daily interaction on the AU Facebook page that I try to visit at least once a day. I like the feeling that I can reach out and give advice where it might be needed there. I do wish I had had more time to be involved in the AU student association but my time was limited and my learning disabilities required me to spend more time on my studies so I could do my best work.”
Anne did not attend last year’s Convocation, “and then it was re-scheduled to an alternative location.” She stated, “It would have been too hard to me to make that many changes in air travel and my ears would not have liked it. I am also hearing impaired and get extreme inner ear problems when I travel by air.”
In the year since graduating, Anne has kept busy, revealing that she has been “[w]orking as an advocate for persons with disabilities, giving talks about my own journey with disabilities and how I use art as a calming activity to help with my mental wellness.” She continued, “I also have written a book about my life and my journey through higher education and how much I enjoy research and some of my artwork is included in this book. I sit on the board of the local Mental Health Recovery Partners Support Group. Some of these activities are limited now due to COVID-19 but we hope to resume the talks when the schools and other programs resume their person to person meetings. I am also able to resume my art exploration now that I do not have to be strapped to my computer every day doing scholarly activities!”
As a final note, Anne would like “to give my extreme thanks to the administration and staff of the MAIS program for their sincere help and assistance to responding to my many requests for help and understanding the many policies and procedures that were sometimes very confusing to this very mature student.”
Congratulations Anne on your accomplishment! Students who would like to learn more about AU’s MA-IS program, are encouraged to check out the variety of diverse disciplines offered, including Equity Studies, Community Studies, Cultural Studies, and Global Change.