Natalie had been homeschooled from Kindergarten through Grade 12 by her mother and started her journey at Athabasca University pursuing the Bachelors of Science program with a major in human science. But she added, “This fall I am transferring to the University of Alberta, as I was accepted into their honours program in cell biology. After I finish my undergraduate degree, I would like to pursue graduate studies abroad. Athabasca allowed me to start my post-secondary journey in my last year of high school. The courses I took at AU enabled me to start in the middle of Year 2 of the cell biology program at the U of A.”
During her free time Natalie enjoys watching and critiquing films, staring at a blank wall deep in thought (she told me that there’s no guarantee that those thoughts are deep, though), and travelling. “Currently, I’m training to race the Spartan Sprint in Red Deer.”
Throughout her life, her desire to learn was influenced by many people, real and fictional. She mentioned affectionately, “My mom homeschooled me all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade, and essentially taught me how to learn on my own. Fictionally, the character of Nathaniel Bowditch (who was a real person) in the historical novel Carry On, Mr. Bowditch was very inspiring. His relentless self-driven pursuit of knowledge, despite major professional and personal setbacks, put my own learning problems into perspective.”
As for her experience with online learning, she mentioned that “Learning online through Athabasca allowed me to start taking courses while I was across the Atlantic, working as an au pair in Germany. It proved invaluable last year, when on-campus universities had to migrate online. I found that the pandemic didn’t affect my schooling much, because Athabasca was built to be an online university.”
Natalie’s most memorable AU course was PHYS 200.
“It was extremely difficult for me, probably because I procrastinated too much on it. I crammed nearly all the lab reports into the last 3 days before my course contract date. Fuzzily building graphs and writing out discussions/conclusions on data at midnight was very memorable (I’m a morning person).”
Natalie found communications with tutors to be extremely effective and helpful since their advice and support helped her pave her way through various difficult courses, “All my tutors have been great at communicating, although the methods of communication would vary from tutor to tutor. One tutor helped me with a physics problem (in PHYS 200) by drawing out her own diagram and emailing me the picture. Another tutor primarily used the phone. All were helpful when I needed help. Shout-out to Lois Browne, my organic chemistry tutor. I wasn’t the best at organic chemistry, but she was very patient and clearly pointed out where I needed to improve. Thanks to her, I ended up with an A- in CHEM 350. (I was barely hoping for a C+ when I was halfway through the course.)”
Her pet peeve is people not paying attention to any written information, noting that, “I’ve seen people walk into automatic doors that refused to open… after walking around the prominent sign in their way that stated the doors were out of order.”
Currently, outside of AU books, Natalie is reading Mao Tse-Tung and I Were Beggars, by Siao-yu.
“Yu was a schoolmate of Mao, and they went on a “begging trip” through China at one point. The book was lent to me by a friend who’s a history buff. I’m enjoying the immersion into a culture and era about which I know practically nothing. I’m also appreciating how Mao and Siao-yu disagree on almost everything, and yet still maintain their friendship (at least for now) through mutual respect and shared passions for debate and poetry.”
Natalie’s passion for learning as well as advancing her career by seeking new opportunities is very motivating and inspirational. The Voice Magazine team thanks Natalie Lapa for taking time out to share her life journey and prays for her continued success in every stage and cycle of life.