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 Grace Nelson (she/her), from Courtrice, Ontario the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
Grace is currently in her first semester of AU’s Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources Management. She stated, “Before Athabasca [University], I did one year at Trent University in 2020–2021 for child and youth, working toward being a teacher, but I had a change of heart and decided to find a career with a wider range of opportunities and more room to grow. I also loved doing online learning since it gave me so much more time to have an actual LIFE—even be able to travel while doing school if I wish. So, I found Athabasca, which met my desire for freedom.”
Grace is “truly enjoying” her first semester so far. She continued, “I wasn’t sure I’d be a good fit for this, but, so far, it feels right; like I made a good decision to switch. After I graduate, I hope to find a job as a Human Resource manager—hopefully find a virtual one, so I can continue my adventures while working! Thankfully, I have seen a lot of HR jobs that are online, so it can only go up from here I’m thinking!”
Outside of school, Grace has been an avid boxer for the past five years and has her “level one coaching.” She explained, “I coached for two years at Motor City Boxing but it closed due to Covid, so I now train at Speakeasy Boxing. I love to travel, went to Calgary last summer for my birthday and saw Lake Louise. She also hopes “to one day move to the Alberta area.” She continued, “I love to do photography as well; I mainly do car and travel photography now. On downtime, I enjoy drawing, painting, and going on mini day trips!” In addition to boxing, Grace enjoys “working-out, painting, going on day adventures, and photography.” She is also currently watching Maniac with Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.
When asked who has had the greatest influence on her desire to learn, Grace stated, “No one has really inspired me to learn other than myself. I want to make sure I can do the things I dream to do, and unfortunately, nothing is free so I decided to find a career that would allow me to pursue those dreams!”
Although only beginning her AU journey, her experience with online learning has been great so far. She explained, “My experience with online learning is amazing. I have the freedom to have a life outside of school and do school when I am in the right mindset to learn. I love being able to schedule my exams.” Although she “struggle[s] to stay focused,” she finds that she is “getting better and it’s teaching [her] how to stay focused and motivated!”
When asked if there was ever a point that she wavered about continuing her schooling, like many students, Grace admitted that she did. She stated, “I wavered in schooling while I was at Trent almost every week; it was so stressful I just wanted to give up. I felt like school was just not for me. Athabasca can be challenging at times, but it isn’t as stressful. I pushed through at Trent by just telling myself to keep going and after the year is done, I’ll sit down and decide if I want to pursue teaching.”
Grace is currently enjoying ADMN 233: Writing in Organizations, which is an “an online simulation where [she] must answer fake emails and do business projects just as [she] would in real life.” She continued, “I love it because it makes me feel like it is doing the best job at teaching exactly what to do. It’s hands-on which I love, I find it difficult to sit and read a textbook, this course provides you with an experience!”
As for communications with her tutors? “I find that communications can be a bit confusing at first but once you get a hang of how to go about contacting them it’s quite easy and I have all my questions answered.”
If she were the new AU President, her “first project would be to grow the family of Athabasca University, post more on social media get to know the students more, and maybe make posts about them.”
When asked which celebrity she would like to have lunch with and why, Grace admitted that she does not keep up with celebrities, but that she would most likely choose Jeff Bezos “to find out how I can make more money, haha.” And the lunch? “Lunch would probably be sushi, my favourite meal to have!”
The one thing that distinguishes Grace from other people is that she believes that “there is no correct thing to do in life, there is no purpose.” She explained, “I feel like people take life much too seriously, but we are really just floating on a big rock so why not do the things you really want to do? Don’t conform yourself to the made-up rules by society. Be your authentic self and if people don’t like it that’s all right because they have no clue to what the purpose of life is either!”
As for the most valuable lesson that she has learned so far? “The most valuable lesson I have learned is to make sure you can depend on yourself, get a good job so that you can do whatever you desire in life, and not need to rely on others to reach those dreams.” And her proudest moment? “I am currently working toward my most proud moment, which will be finishing my degree, but after that I’m sure I will have even more proud moments.” Best of luck Grace!