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 Jadianne Simpson from Medicine Hat, 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).
Jadianne is currently finishing her last four courses in the Bachelor of Professional Arts in Human Services here at AU. She stated, “This program was never in my original plan for my education, nor will it be my finish line. After spending the better part of a decade working as an education assistant, I realized that my passion is not in helping students ace spelling and math tests, but rather making sure that their hearts are happy and they feel safe. The amount of mental health support for our youth is severely lacking and I am excited to be a bigger part of the change! My previous diploma transferred into my current degree program and upon graduating, I will be enrolling in whichever Master’s of Counselling program my wallet can handle.” She is also a mother of four, and has had the opportunity to live all over the province, as “a daughter of a truck driver,” before settling down and spending the majority of her life in Medicine Hat.
When she is not studying, Jadianne can be found “arguing with teenagers who ‘know everything’ or hiding from a 7-year old who wants to know everything.” She continued, “All jokes aside, I love being a mom and spend much of my time volunteering in whatever activity they are currently participating in. COVID-19 has significantly reduced my opportunities to volunteer and so I have filled that void by dedicating my time as a Keep In Touch caller through Canada Mental Health, and empowering other AU students to keep pushing through their personal barriers.”
When asked who in her life had the greatest influence on her desire to learn, Jadianne stated, “My influence to continue learning comes from many people and many situations. Seeing the limited emotional intelligence in our youth today pushes me to be an example that hard things can be accomplished. Some other wise person once told me that ‘If you know better, you can do better’ and I have always tried my best to live up to that idea. Learning provides me the opportunity to be a better parent, a better professional, a better friend. And honestly, someone has to be able to answer the constant ‘But why/how?’ from the youngest child, right?”
As for her experience with online learning? “Online learning is not everyone’s cup of tea (Just ask my teenagers how much they loved COVID learning!) but it will forever be my favourite part of my education. The freedom to smash out a course in 10 days or take a week off to sit poolside in the sun without missing any important information from class just can’t be beat.”
Despite her contentment with online learning, she admitted that she did waver about continuing her education at one point. She explained, “PHIL 231 [Introduction to Philosophy: East and West] was the first course I took at AU, and had it not been for the amount of money invested; SparkNotes; and the (eventually understood) encouraging quotes of Confucius, it may have been my last one as well. It was through this course that I learned the value of reaching out to tutors, and leaning on fellow students. It may also be the cause of my need to help other students in their courses; my way of giving back and paying it forward.”
Her most memorable course so far has been HSRV 306: Critical Reflection for Practice. “It was not by any means the most difficult course, nor was it packed with large amounts of information. Despite this, it is the course that I learned the most through: who I am; where I have been; and what I want to do with my life . . . all in one assignment! Oh the power of personal reflection! It is also a course that gave me a not so gentle reminder of empathy and compassion, those lessons that are always welcome and not provided often enough.”
Jadianne has also had great interactions with her tutors. She stated, “I have never encountered a tutor that I could not have an enjoyable conversation with. Sometimes it is in the little conversations that you learn the most.”
If she were the new president of AU, Jadianne stated, “I may get scowled at if my first project wasn’t implementing a decrease in tuition, however I feel there are much bigger issues to deal with, including more resources for students with learning disabilities; and effective ways to ensure university standards are upheld for students.”
When asked about which famous person, past or present, she would you like to have lunch with, and why, Jadianne chose hockey player Theoren “Theo” Fleury. She explained, “I can listen to him speak a million times and I will never not be in awe of his resilience. His raw honesty is inspiring, and I always feel more empowered after hearing him tell about his journey.” And the lunch? “French Toast counts as lunch right?”
As for the most valuable lesson that she has learned in life, Jadianne stated, “Sometimes you fall! I have no clue where those words came from but they have stuck with me throughout my life. Learning to walk? Sometimes you fall! Get back up and go again! Learn to ride a bike? Sometimes you fall! Get back up and go again! Take on PHIL 231 as your first online university course? Sometimes you fall! Get back up on go again! There are risks in everything you do and in every choice you make; and I guarantee you that through all of them you will fall! But you will also learn, and you will get back up and go again!”
And her proudest moment in life? “Simply put, all of them! Just when I think I couldn’t be more proud of myself, I go and do something that knocks that previous one from the top! Yes, I have broken through barriers to further my education. I’ve dedicated my life to raising four fantastic human beings and in a few weeks will watch one graduate high school and fly the nest. I’ve ran 5 km that felt like the greatest accomplishment in my life, and I have ran 16 km that felt like the worst decision in my life. Fact of the matter is, my proudest moments are every day that I wake up, despite the chaos and barriers, and continue to enjoy whatever life throws at me.” Best of luck Jadianne!