Minds We Meet—Angel Kassem

Interviewing Students Like You!

Who are your fellow students?  It can feel like you are all alone in your studies, but across the nation, around the globe, students like you are also pursuing their AU education, and The Voice Magazine wants to bring their stories to you and vice versa.  If you would like to be featured next, do not hesitate to get in touch!

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Angel Kassem, currently residing in Calgary, Alberta, the traditional Treaty 7 territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, the Îyâxe Nakoda (the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations), as well as the Métis Nation of Alberta (Region 3).

Originally from Edmonton, Angel is currently enjoying her first semester of her first year in the Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources Management program after transferring from the University of Alberta.

When asked about her future, Angel spoke of pursuing an internship before graduation and eventually working “either in the healthcare or the construction industry as an HR manager.”

She found choosing a major difficult, because “life is changing.  There are so many things that were in demand that are not anymore,” noting especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  “Whatever changes we are seeing now, I’m sure that people will build on them even after COVID goes away, and it will be the new norm that people work from home.”  Angel chose her program taking into account that the workforce is becoming more virtual, and with the belief “that companies will always need HR.”  She added, “I hope that I am not wrong that it will always be in demand!”

Angel mentioned her parents, originally from Egypt, revealing that she considers her father, an engineer, as the person who has had the greatest influence on her desire to learn.  “He is very smart; he is very successful in his career.”  However, she decided to pursue business instead, stating, “No one in my family is in business.  I’m the first,” although she mentioned that her youngest brother who is going into university next year is interested in business as well.  She continued, “I actually wasn’t interested [in business] until I started with AU and started reading about business.  I was doing science at the University of Alberta, and I was planning to do pharmacy, but I didn’t like the nature of the job.”

“My life is so busy—single mom, working full time.”  She found that attending school full time while juggling full time work was simply no longer feasible.  Instead, she felt that AU offered a better fit, allowing her to continue to work and study.  Although she had originally never heard of AU, she “got to know that AU is very reputable, especially when it comes to business degrees.  It’s reputable, it’s well known, it has a good ranking in Canada, and it’s accredited.  The degree I’ll get from it will be looked upon with respect.”

Angel also feels that AU is much more demanding than a traditional brick and mortar school.  “I feel like I’m going to gain more from Athabasca than if I go on campus … I feel like I’m going to become more knowledgeable of what I have studied graduating from AU than if I go on campus where I’m just going to rely on the lectures.”

In addition, she feels like, at AU she truly understands her courses because she “is forced to … read everything” as opposed to skimming through the material.  As many AU students know far too well, she stated, “I have to understand it because I’m on my own.  I have to explain everything to myself.”  She continued, “When I don’t understand something, yes, I can go to my tutors … but you explore more of the topics that you don’t understand because you have no other choice.”  She explained, “It is a lot of work, and it is stressful, especially if you are taking five courses per semester … but I feel that the students who graduate from AU are going to be more knowledgeable than students from other universities because they have done more work. We will also be very disciplined graduates.” She continued, “[At] AU, it’s so easy to procrastinate because no one is pushing you to wake up early, no one is forcing you to attend lectures, no one is monitoring if you did your reading on time. You have to be disciplined.  You have to be self-motivated.  Even if you don’t have that initially, acquiring those habits through Athabasca University … is essential career wise, they are essential to be successful in the workplace.”

However, Angel dislikes “the lack of structure … for some courses.”  She stated, “They just give you all the information and [tell you] do whatever you know how to do.”  She would like to see “recorded lectures or even summaries of each chapter,” stating, “We’re missing the face-to-face interaction with tutors, with professors … even if it’s online, it will make a big difference.”  She believes that this “would make students more engaged, more motivated, and more committed to finishing their programs.”  In addition, she is also “missing the student interaction as well.”

Her most memorable AU course to date has been ADMN 232: Introduction to Management, “a core and one of the first courses I had to take,” which made Angel “love business so much.”  She stated, “In general, there are so many things that I am learning … so much that I have learned that I can actually apply to my personal life.”  She mentioned her interest in Psychology, revealing that she went into HR because of the field’s interrelatedness.  She found the course interesting, stating that it was “not as dry as I thought it would be … I found it to be relatable to my life.” ADMN 232 inspired her to continue and complete her degree in business.”

If she could change AU, Angel would “include more video lectures,” as well as photos of tutors and professors.  She stated, “It’s tough … there’s so much reading you have to do, you’re on your own, and there is a lack of interaction.”  However, she is pleased with the communications with her tutors, especially because “they give good feedback.”

Although between raising her child, working full time, and assignments, Angel has no time for reading for enjoyment, she has found herself reading additional chapters in her textbooks “for personal interest” and enjoying them a great deal.

As for one thing that distinguishes her from other people, Angel chose “determination” and her passion for reading.  Even though she is slowly trying to become accustomed to online learning amidst a pandemic, she revealed, “I’m not going to give up, I’m going to keep trying.”  Best of luck Angel!