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 Natesha Francis, from Edmonton, Alberta, located on Treaty 6 territory and a traditional meeting ground and home for many Indigenous Peoples, including the Cree, Saulteaux, Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Métis, and Nakota Sioux Peoples.
Natesha previously attended the legal assistant program at MacEwan University, which “was transferrable to Athabasca.” Although she had previously transferred to AU eight years ago, work as a busy licensed realtor, as well as family obligations, temporarily derailed her journey. She returned in 2019 and is completing her second year of AU’s Bachelor of Professional Arts in Governance, Law, and Management program. Although she initially began her educational journey at the age of 22, after several pauses she is now very committed to reaching her goal. She stated, “Either life was in the way, or funding, or I felt that I just couldn’t fit it in.”
Outside of school, Natesha enjoys the outdoors, including walking on trails and “being active,” mentioning a recent trip to nearby Elk Island National Park. She also enjoys reading, especially historical friction. She mentioned that she is currently reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, enjoys television series, such as The Good Fight, and has recently re-watched Hannibal.
She credits both of her parents, who emigrated from the Caribbean, with her desire to learn. She stated, “It was really just drilled into us how important education is,” speaking briefly about her father’s educational experiences in Jamaica. She mentioned that when she planned to get married, her parents made her promise to finish her program beforehand. She stated, “I was so happy that I listened to them, and I finished that program!” She also credits her children for inspiring her to study. “I have two girls, and I always drill into them that education is so important, especially for women. It gives us options. They should always have an education to fall back on.”
When asked about her experience learning in an online environment, Natesha stated, “Personally, I love online learning.” Although she has attended traditional in-person classes, she revealed, “I love online [classes] for the simple fact that you can go at your own pace, you can cover as much as you can.” She appreciates the “individualized” learning process, revealing that she has only recently “begun reach out to the tutors. … It’s really helped … getting the full benefit.” She continued, “I would highly recommend that people do that. Sometimes we just get lost in the reading, and it’s just nice to talk to the tutors and see who they are.”
Her most memorable AU course has been SOSC366: Research Methods in the Social Sciences, where she learned “so much,” mentioning that the tutor was great as well. She continued, “It has really made me think outside of my own box. It really expanded how I thought about things. At the time that I took it, the Black Lives Matter [movement] … was starting to happen and it’s all about these issues. I got to really dissect that based on the course. It was very real life. I really liked it!”
It’s this particular course with its focus on equity that she credits for setting her on a different path. In the future, she would like “to be involved with policy creation and governance to make a difference.” This is her end goal, and it merges nicely with her legal background and previous desire to go to law school.
As for communication with her tutors, Natesha stated that she had not felt the need to reach out during her first eight courses, but recently had begun to engage and ask them questions. She continued, “I find that they’re all wonderful.”
When asked what her first task would be as the new president of AU, Natesha revealed that she “would figure out how to get their phone lines back up!” a common refrain heard from AU students during these past seven months. As an example, she mentioned a small mishap that was eventually resolved, but could have been taken care of by phone much quickly than by email correspondence.
Natesha would like to have lunch with Michelle Obama, as well as Hilary Clinton, or Nancy Pelosi, “one of those three or do a group meeting.” The ideal lunch would take place in Washington, D.C. with Indian cuisine.
Her proudest moment is that her daughters know how hardworking she “has tried to be for them” and feels that her tenacity distinguishes her from others. Her most valuable lesson has been “to take responsibility for your own life and what happens in it,” qualifying this by mentioning that there are exceptions. She also considers laziness her pet peeve.
As a final note, Natesha has noticed that oftentimes students appear overwhelmed on social media, especially near the end of their group of courses. “We’re kind of getting burnt out because of life and school, and it’s nice to know that it’s normal, that everybody experiences [it].” She continued, “For the most part … most of it is so encouraging to know that you’re not the only one.” Best of luck Natesha!