Minds We Meet—Judith Gutter

Who are your fellow students?  It can feel like you are all alone in your studies, but across the nation, around the globe, students like you are also pursuing their AU education, and The Voice Magazine wants to bring their stories to you.  If you would like to be featured next, do not hesitate to get in touch!

The Voice Magazine recently had the chance to chat with Judith Gutter (she/her) from Mount Stewart, Prince Edward Island, currently enrolled in the University Certificate in Advanced Accounting.

Like many AU students, Judith has followed a non-linear path to her studies.  She explained, “I am a Red Seal Chef but was burnt out and got addicted to drugs to try to work more and more hours.  I was in a downward spiral and slowly losing touch with reality.  I found myself pregnant and realized I needed to change.  I got sober and wanted a career change, so I began my journey with AU—enrolling in the Bachelor of Arts—English with the ultimate goal of Law School when I was 6 months pregnant.  However, I realized that my learning ability was not the same as back in high school and trying to learn with a newborn was also difficult.  I changed to the accounting certificate as I did very well in the basic accounting course I took in college during my culinary management diploma.  I finished my accounting certificate and now I am doing my advanced accounting certificate.  I plan on completing my Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting next.  Then I am hoping to work towards my CPA designation.”

On a more personal note, Judith “was born in the Netherlands and moved to Canada when [she] was 10.” She lived in Kincardine, before going to Georgian College in Barrie and buying a house in Angus.” I lived in Ontario until just recently, as I am in the process of moving to Prince Edward Island,” she stated.  When she is not studying, Judith spends time with her 3-year-old daughter Annette, and enjoys figure skating, inline figure skating, and cycling.

Her family, including her parents and daughter, have had the greatest influence on her desire to learn.  She mentioned that her “parents have supported [her] every step of the way.”  “Whether just easing my anxiety about exams and study load to watching my daughter so I can go to the library to do school.”

Judith has had a positive experience with online learning so far.  “I really like the online learning because of the flexibility I have in completing courses and assignments.  I like working on my own pace.”  However, there have also been some downsides.  “I do dislike the weight of the exams and the exam process.  Living rural made this extremely difficult, especially during COVID when libraries for proctoring were closed.  My internet could not support the ProctorU so it caused a great deal of anxiety.  Some professors were very accommodating and others not at all,” she explained.

However, like many AU students, there was a point that she wavered about continuing her educational journey.  “I wavered when courses became very difficult, and exams were made up of obscure questions and materials not covered in the course.  I feel like the way exams are measuring our grasp of the material is super outdated.  When they raised tuition once again, I really had to evaluate my choice of continuing with AU especially when we are teaching ourselves.  Compared to other schools it seemed that, besides flexibility, there were no other benefits.  Trying to balance school, work, and being a single mom is really hard for me,” she stated.

Judith enjoyed TAXX 301: Taxation I, although admitting that “most people would consider this boring.”  She also enjoyed Nutrition, since she “did nutrition before [she] switched to accounting and being a former chef [she] was always interested in nutrition, and it was a part of [her] job.”

As for communication with her course tutors?  “I have no issues with communications with my course tutors.  I do not communicate very often but when I do, majority of the time they are quick to respond.  My tutor for my advanced accounting sometimes responded within an hour.”

If she were the new president of AU, her “first project would be to overhaul the courses.” She would also “[i]nclude more lectures and videos created by AU professors.” She continued that she would also “include way more interactive material and real-life based assessments.  Less relying on exams to measure student’s grasp of the material.”  In addition, she would decrease tuition, or “at the very least [give] students more value for their money and more ways to succeed.”

When asked which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why, Judith chose “Anthony Bourdain; because he has travelled all over the world and has tried so many cuisines and met so many people.”  And the lunch?  “Anything at the Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar in Banff, Alberta.  Best restaurant I have ever eaten [at].”

Her most valuable lesson learned in life is something that she is also “still learning,” namely “that you must believe in yourself and not worry too much about what others think.”  She continued, “I struggle with self-esteem, so I underestimate myself a lot or care too much about what others are thinking or doing that I block my own success.  I burnt myself out trying to prove myself because I thought I wasn’t good enough.  Looking back, I was definitely good enough, but I was in a toxic environment.  Now I allow myself to acknowledge my accomplishments and worry less about what others think.”

As for her proudest moment?  “One of the proudest moments in my life would be when I bought my house on my own when I was just 21.  Many people around me my age weren’t even thinking of buying a house.  I was very proud of being financially responsible (thanks to my parents).  Of course, another proud moment is becoming a mom to my beautiful daughter Annette.”

Judith also has one interesting thing that distinguishes her from other people.  She “can stay perfectly calm and professional when customers are yelling, cursing, or belittling [her] over the phone.”  She explained that she “work[s] at a call center for a major telecommunications company and customers aren’t always pleasant, but [she is] amazing at de-escalating calls.”

As a final note, Judith mentioned, “I have been doing my studies for a few years now and sometimes I really get frustrated about how long it’s taking me to complete my studies compared to others who work full time and do school full time.  But I keep reminding myself that it doesn’t matter what others are doing as long as I keep going!”  Best of luck Judith!