Who are your fellow students? At times, in an online learning environment, it can feel like you are all alone, but across the nation and around the globe, students just like you are also pursuing their Athabasca University (AU) studies! Each week, The Voice Magazine will be bringing you some of these stories. 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 Ceder (she/her), currently residing in Red Deer, Alberta, the traditional Treaty 6 territory of the Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Saulteaux, and Nakota Sioux Peoples, the traditional Treaty 7 territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy (the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, the Îyâxe Nakoda First Nation (the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations), as well as the Métis Nation of Alberta (Region 3).
Born and raised in Red Deer, twenty year-old Ceder is currently enrolled in her second year of the Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology here at AU. She stated, “Eventually, I would love to work as a psychologist, so I plan to get a Master’s Degree in Counselling as well. My own experiences with mental illness guided me to this area of study, and my passion for this subject only continues to grow. I am so excited to use what I learn, both from school and my own experiences, to hopefully help other people in anyway I can.”
When she is not studying, Ceder loves “reading, crocheting, meditating, doing yoga, and spending time in nature.” She added, “I also enjoy tending to my houseplants!” She mentioned that she just finished reading The House in The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. She described it as “a lighthearted fiction fantasy novel about a social worker for magical children.” Ceder “highly recommend[ed] it if you need a little escape from school/work/life stress.” She is also always re-watching Parks and Recreation, stating “It is my all-time favourite show; I am not even sure how many times I have re-watched it at this point! For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it starts out slow but if you give it a chance, you’ll fall in love with all of the characters. “
When asked to choose the one person who has had the greatest influence on her desire to learn, Ceder mentioned having “many incredible teachers along the way,” although she believes that she has “always had an innate love for learning.” She stated, “Teachers who create a comfortable learning environment and take time to genuinely connect with their students make a world of a difference!”
Ceder “absolutely love[s] online learning,” explaining that she “really enjoy[s] reading so teaching [herself] from the course textbooks is great.” She continued, “Also, as someone with a permanent disability, being able attend therapy and doctor’s appointments without worrying about missing class is unbelievably helpful. I know online learning isn’t for everyone, but I don’t think there is a single thing I don’t like about it.”
When asked if there was ever a point during which she wavered about continuing her schooling, she mentioned a time this past September. “I was struggling a lot with my disability (life threw me some serious curveballs), but thankfully AU’s Accessibility Services helped me make some adjustments to my courses and find accommodations that allowed me to prioritize my wellbeing while still maintaining my full-time status and funding.”
As for her most memorable course, Ceder chose PSYC 289: Psychology as a Natural Science. She explained, “The content was so interesting and such a great introduction to the many different fields within Psychology. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I much prefer multiple choice quizzes/tests to written assignments, so I especially enjoyed the layout of that class. Additionally, there were many great study tools designed specifically for the course. It was a great introduction to AU.”
When asked about her experiences with tutors at AU, Ceder gave a “shout out [to] Kaltrina Kusari,” her tutor for HSRV 201: Social Work and Human Services, since “she always gave her feedback in a kind and informative way.” She added that although she has “had one or two poor experiences where a tutor was a bit curt,” she felt that “for the most part AU seems to have many passionate tutors who are happy to help their students and answer any questions.” In addition, she has also “had great experiences with tutors replying quickly.”
If she were the new AU President, Ceder revealed that she is unsure if she has “a specific goal in mind.” However, she believes that AU’s Accessibility Services has helped her in many ways, and as the new President, she “would love to work more closely with them and find a way to ensure that all students who would benefit from there services are contacted.”
The one thing that distinguishes Ceder from other people is that she has her “level two certification in Reiki, a form of energy healing.” She explained, “As a psychology major, I value the science behind traditional treatments for wellbeing, but I am also open to learn about alternative practices that may not be fully explained yet. I believe healing takes place on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.”
As for her most valuable lesson learned in life? She believes “that mental illness deserves just as much attention and care as physical illness.”
And her proudest moment? “I believe the proudest moment in my life is also related to mental health. I am incredibly proud of myself for all the work with therapy and medication I have committed to.”
As a final note, Ceder had some advice for fellow students: “I think I would just like say that if anyone feels like post-secondary school isn’t attainable for them because of a disability and/or mental illness, just know that online, self-paced learning exists and that the accessibility and mental health programs provided are there for a reason. If you are struggling, it’s okay to ask for help and create a plan that meets your individual needs.” Best of luck Ceder!