Minds We Meet—Brittany Lee Acton

Most of us tend to complain that we have too much on our plates, but there are many around us who tend to carry too much on a platter instead of a plate.  Through The Voice Magazine team and AU students alike, we are able to get an insight into the lives of our peers and perhaps learn to be content with what we have.  “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore

This week The Voice Magazine is grateful toward Brittany Lee Acton who spared some time from her busy schedule to speak with us and share her inspiring life story.

Brittany lives in Saskatoon with her spouse and two kids, one of whom has different needs.  Apart from attaining a certification in women’s counselling, she has almost completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in psychology, and is planning to pursue a master’s degree in the future.

As for her career, she mentioned “I have been working in the field of psychology for several years.  I got a job offer in Saskatchewan shortly after I started my bachelor’s degree at AU and have been working my way up ever since.”

“I switched [between] several jobs before I found one in which I felt safe, comfortable, and well supported by my employer.  Working front line can be very exhausting.  Since I had young kids and I was also studying, it was important for me to have a good work life balance.”

Along her career path, Brittany had faced some difficult times as well.  “I used to work in harm reduction and addictions in the past and there were a couple of occasions where I felt that my physical safety was at risk and I was faced with some life-threatening situations.  It was then that I realized that front line work in that area was not for me, especially since I had a family to take care of.  I would have continued to work in that field if I didn’t have a family, but I prioritized my loved ones over everything else and moved to a different department.”

Although COVID-19 made it more difficult to keep up with work-life balance, Brittany felt that being together made their family bonding stronger.  “Since my son was at high risk of getting sick, both my children had been virtual learning for a year and a half.  They haven’t been back to school since last March, although it was hard at times to focus on work upstairs while kids made a lot of noise downstairs, but it was quite good for me since I had a lot of wonderful relatives who stepped in to help me throughout the pandemic and that really helped in strengthening our ties.  It made us realize the kind of love and support we had and that there is a lot to be grateful for in life.”

Brittany’s greatest influence for the desire to learn was her best friend whose determination and persistence inspired her to take a deeper look into her own life.

“I had been working as a chef for close to a decade and was about to have my first child when I met my best friend.  Mentally, I was not in a great place and she encouraged me to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life as well as invest in myself to achieve my dreams.  After having her first daughter she went back to school and completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social working over the course of having three kids.  Her actions spoke louder than words and she was able to prove to me that anything was possible as long I had the mindset and persistence to do it.”

Brittany’s experience with online learning has been quite positive so far, “I don’t think I would be able to attend school in person since I struggle with strict schedules and routines.  I need to able to do things my own way.  I become very frustrated in a regular classroom environment and online studies allow me to work at my own pace; to spend more time when I have the energy for it and sit back a little bit when I don’t.

“There have been a lot of moments when I had self doubts.  Some of the science-based psychology courses really challenged me, and those were the moments where I questioned whether or not I would be able to have a career in this field.  I have been quite flexible with myself, and I have changed my program of study four or five times since I started my education.  I open to change in my future as long as I can be satisfied and content with what I am doing.”

According to Brittany, Indigenous Studies 301 is her most memorable course.  “I took this course because I needed credit in humanities and it ended up being a favourite of mine.  I think I ended up learning more in that course than most of the other courses.  It was a really inspiring course since it was more relevant to my life, especially since I worked for Women’s services in Saskatchewan.”

As far as communication with course tutors is concerned, Brittany mentioned “Overall it’s been a good experience, tutors are readily available, although sometimes the wait time to get answers to queries have been longer.”

Brittany’s first project as new president of AU would be enhancing liberal arts sector.  She confidently mentioned “Most of the liberal arts course are relatively good but they need to be more up to date and could use more intersectional ends.  I would love to bring those courses in par with current times.”

Her pet peeve is “A lot of people expecting online learning to be an exact trade for in person learning!  They are very different; they both have strengths and weaknesses.  Online learning requires persistence and self motivation whereas making time for classroom learning can be a bit burdensome specially with busy schedule like mine.  It can be hard sometimes when people don’t understand these differences.”

Brittany would love to have lunch with Jack Layton since most of her political foundation is based on his time with NDP.  “I did meet him a number of times when I younger before he passed on.  I would love to be able to learn where his political foundations came from and to see how he got us where we are today.”

When asked about her proudest moment she affectionately answered, “Motherhood has made me very proud of myself; especially since my youngest child has required a lot of attention and advocacy for his care.  I built a support network for him, and I was able to obtain life saving medication not available in Canada.  I have continued to advocate to this day so that everyone with his condition would be able to get access to the medicine if and when they need it.  I know the difficulties that I faced during that time, and I was very proud when I was able to save my son through my efforts.  There were people out there who helped me, and I want to be that person for someone else.”

Brittany allows herself to watch TV once a week and currently she only has enough time to watch The Handmaids Tale.

Brittany’s efforts to take care of her family, her persistence to continue her education, and her endurance to keep going despite having a lot on her platter is truly motivating and inspirational.  It shows that one should always look at the positive aspects of life, never give up, and, most importantly, be grateful with all that life has to offer.

The Voice Magazine thanks Brittany Lee Acton for sharing her story and prays that she achieves success in all aspects of her life.

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