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. If you would like to be featured next, do not hesitate to get in touch!
The Voice Magazine recently had the chance to chat with Mel Mirasol from Calgary, Alberta, the Treaty 7 territory 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).
Mel has been at AU since 2012, originally registered in the Bachelor of Computing and Information Systems program. In 2017, program changes allowed him to add Biology to his program as a minor. Although these additional courses slowed down his graduation plans slightly, he is currently on his last five courses!
During his spare time, Mel loves to hike in the summer, stating “I used to hike almost every weekend, not this year though, because of COVID-19, and last year I didn’t get a chance to do that as much as well, because there were a lot of forest fires near Calgary. It’s not good for the lungs. I usually take my parents with me because it’s good for their health. At the same time, it’s just good to take them out to the mountains.” During the winters, Mel is trying to learn how to ice skate and has also taken pottery classes in the past. “It’s hard. It’s harder than it looks and at the same time, it’s just messy!”
Mel’s parents have had the greatest influence on his desire to learn. He stated, “They have their Bachelor’s in Engineering, but my dad was actually the one that has pursued grad studies.” He continued, “My dad did his Master’s in Public Administration later in his life. “
His experience with online learning so far has been good, especially in terms of the flexibility. “It’s just so good that you can do your studies anywhere — you can do it on transit, you can do it at lunch time at work. You can just do it anywhere.” However, he also mentioned the downside to this flexibility, including the lack of “personal interactions with other students” or tutors. In addition, it can be “easy to get derailed.” He stated, “With the flexibility, I think it comes with that caveat of: ‘You need to be disciplined because we will just give you a schedule and you just do it yourself.’”
Narrowing down the most memorable course so far was difficult for Mel, since “there’s been a lot” and he “can’t pick one!” He chose CHEM 217: Chemical Principles I and CHEM 218: Chemical Principles. He stated that CHEM 217 in particular was very challenging as an introductory university course but also “just really memorable.” While in CHEM 217, students are given a home lab kit, in CHEM 218 Mel described booking “a lab with other students” and stated that it was “fun” and a great way to “actually get to sit down with other students.”
As for a non-AU book he is reading right now? Mel chose Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, stating that he is “into philosophy.” While Mel does not watch a lot of TV, he noted that “used to watch Sabrina on Netflix.”
The one thing that distinguishes Mel from other people is his “level of empathy,” and one of his happiest moments was graduating with his diploma from SAIT, stating, “It just opened a lot of opportunities for me to go to work and help the family.”
Mel is saddened by the news of the resignation of current AU President Dr. Neil Fassina “because he was an amazing president. He actually transformed a lot of things at the university.” He stated that he has seen a great difference from his enrollment in 2017 to the present day. “AU in 2012 compared to what it is now is completely different!” He explained, “There’s a lot of things that he did, revamping the entire image of AU, the online presence. He had a vision of where the university is heading.” If Mel were the new president, he stated, “I’m not going to change anything, but I will follow what he established.” He would also focus “more on research and development” as well as being the leading university in “offering online courses.” He stated, “I think our delivery methods right now could be better.”
Mel does not have many pet peeves, stating, “It’s really hard to annoy me or upset me.” He explained, “I can’t control other people, so I’ll just let them be. The only thing that I control is my actions. So if that annoys me, I’ll just remove myself, or if it actually annoys me and I value that person, I will mention it to them.”
As for the most valuable lesson that he has learned in life, Mel stated, “You need to live in the present, always,” which “just frees you from all stress because you’re not looking forward to anything that is in the future, because that is not promised. At the same time, you can’t really change anything in the past.” Best of luck Mel!