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 Amanda Leslie, currently residing in Hanna, Alberta, 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).
Twenty-eight year old Amanda Leslie is currently completing the Bachelor of Arts Psychology Major with an Anthropology Minor after recently beginning the program in July 2021. Although only enrolled in “two courses at the moment,” Psych 289: Psychology as a Natural Science is going well.
Amanda plans to enter “the counselling program,” upon completion, explaining, “This program fits into where I want to go because I want to become a counsellor and eventually end up owning my own practice to help people who suffer mental health or normal family issues.”
The ambitious learner stated, “I was born in Calgary Alberta,” and “grew up in many different places around Canada. Mostly lived in British Columbia until I graduated high school, then we moved back to Alberta in 2013. I am a strong, confident young woman who has overcome a lot in her life so far. At a young age, I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of eight, and it has been tough on me emotionally. I was bullied in high school. Even though I may have had a tough childhood, I was able to come out on the other side in a much happier place. With going from job to job and trying to attend college to be a unit clerk, I finally was able to figure out what my career would be. I come from two loving parents, who helped shape me into the person I have dreamed of becoming. I am also a fur mother to an adorable cat named Edgar, who is my world.”
When not studying, the Psychology student said, “I like to watch television shows, movies, read books, hang out with my cat or spend time with my family and also work at the job I am in.” Amanda is currently reading “the second book in the Bridgerton book series,” and “binge watching FBI, Chicago P.D/Med/Fire, Magnum P.I. and many more.”
As for the greatest educational influence in this undergraduate’s life? “My cousins all had the greatest influence on my desire to learn as they are all hard workers and took a ton of years to become nurses.”
Amanda has always wanted “do online schooling,” explaining, “I have taken a photography course online while attending high school and it was a fun experience. I like that I can study at any time, while in my pajama’s, and the only dislikes are how the grading is done on the recent course I’m doing.”
As for communication with tutors? “The communication with my tutors hasn’t been the greatest. I found the way one of my tutors answered my questions made me very confused. The way I phrased those questions were simple to answer but they didn’t understand at all. I find it weird that the tutors mark the assignments not the professors who created the courses. Tutors are supposed to help and guide you and help overlook your assignments to give tips.”
If Amanda were the new president of AU, one priority would be to ensure marking times and for “students [to] get proper support with allowing faster communication to their questions or concerns.” The student remarked that many others “on the AU app were [also] having harder times to get in contact.” The learner continued, “I’d also ask professors to be more clear on group project assignments and actually put real due dates, not just flimsy dates like ‘due end of unit 4’ as that isn’t clear. Online schooling needs a bit more structure and better term outlines especially for AU.”
Amanda’s current pet peeve is a recent course’s grading system, explaining how a mark of 80% is needed on a quiz with 20 questions before proceeding to the next section, with only three attempts. “Quiz’s with only 20 questions deserve a passing grade of 70%, which I think is reasonable and shouldn’t lock the second quiz. That leaves students a rough time if they want to proceed to the chapter of the textbook to finish their course on time.”
As for the possibility of having lunch with a famous person, past or present? That would be “Rosanna Pansino who may be a YouTube-r but she has an incredible sense of boss-lady vibes. She has grown her brand to a couple cookbooks, a television show and continues to be so humble and grounded.” And the lunch? “The lunch would be tea and desserts that she makes as she makes delicious looking treats.”
Most people do not know about Amanda’s appreciation for “horoscopes, crystals, tarot readings and psychics and [a belief] in the universe,” as well as a fascination with “the supernatural and ghosts.”
As for a proud moment in life? Amanda revealed, “My proudest moment is when I was able to find my voice, and not be so shy and quiet on the inside. It took me till I was almost done my 20s to get out of the shyness I had all my life.”
As a final note, the new AU student mentioned, “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in life would be to always put myself first and be okay to say no. I’ve always put others first whether I am severely sick or injured even.” Best of luck Amanda!