Minds We Meet—Vanesa Blanco Claramonte

Interviewing Students Like You!

The Voice Magazine recently had the chance to chat with Vanesa Blanco Claramonte (she/her) residing in Edmonton, Alberta.  Vanesa “acknowledge[d] that we are on the traditional land of Treaty 6 and home of the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 4.  We also acknowledge the Inuit and other diverse Indigenous peoples whose ancestors have marked this territory for centuries, a place that has welcomed many peoples from around the world to make their home here.”

On a personal note, Vanesa came to Canada from Vila-real, Spain seven years ago.  She continued, “I am 43 years old and happily married.  My husband is an engineer, and the reason we came to Canada in the first place.”

Vanesa is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies, with six courses remaining.  “My next step will be an after-degree in education to accomplish my dream: to be a teacher in Canada,” she stated.

When asked how she best studies and what keeps her motivated, Vanesa let The Voice Magazine know, “I am working full time; plus, as a mom, I use my daughter’s extra school activities to study.  Also, while my husband is preparing meals for the week, I study when I am at home.”

She also had some advice for new students.  “My advice for a new student, especially international students who are not familiar with the Canadian system, is: Carefully read the instructions for each assignment, ask your professors (they are here to help you), and do not give up, sometimes you will feel exhausted or that it is too much, but do not give up.  Anytime you feel this way ask for help.  In the university, you can find students in the same situation as you.”

When she is not studying, she “love[s] spending time with [her] family.”  She continued, “We love to go hiking with the dog, go to museums, or on weekend trips.  I also enjoy reading and sharing my comments with my friends in our book club.  Cooking with my family on Sunday is becoming a classic.  We love cooking together, listening to music, singing, and dancing.”

Speaking of books, The Voice Magazine asked Vanesa which book or author has made an impact on her life.  She stated that when she was nine years old, she “did a school project about [her] hometown’s history.”  She continued, “My group and I won the first prize and received a package containing fancy school supplies and a book.  The book was The Little Prince.”  She has read the book so many times that she has lost count!

Her family, especially her husband, have had the greatest influence on her desire to learn, since they always cheer her “up when [she] feel[s] down, or [she] feel[s] too old or tired.”

Her experience with online learning has been good overall.  “I must admit that it took me time to get used to it, but here I am.  I like the idea you can do it using your own time.  I like to follow the schedule that professors design for their courses, but sometimes I wish I could have a class recorded from some areas that are more difficult to understand.”

Vanesa’s most memorable course has been INST: 301: Indigenous Education, explaining, “I have learnt about the Indigenous people and the country I am part of.”

As for which famous person, past or present, she like to have lunch with, and why, Vanesa chose Josephine Baker, who she has admired ever since she “read her story for the first time when [she] was fifteen or sixteen.”  She continued, “She was so resilient, so brave, and so generous.  Josephine Baker was a woman full of love who fought in a time where being a woman and black had zero value.  Sometimes I sit on my couch, and I like to look [at] drawing[s] about her from a book that I bought in a second-hand bookstore, and that moment fills me with motivation.”

Vanesa also described her most memorable vacation to The Voice Magazine, in which her niece came to visit.  “We did a road trip all the way to Portland for three weeks.  I remember my daughter, who was eight years old, pranking my niece when she didn’t understand a word or a sentence in English.  It was an incredible trip.”

Her most valuable lessons learned in life have been many, in particular from her grandmother.  She said about the lessons, “So many, my grandmother was full of valuable lessons, she was a wonderful woman who did not have an easy life, but she always looked forward with optimism.”

And her proudest moment in life?  “The proudest moment in my life was when after the first course in AU, I decided to pursue the dream of being a teacher in Canada.”

As a final note, Vanessa stated, “Overall, I am proud of my accomplishments as a student and how this experience has positively influenced my daughter.  There are times when she complains about all the time I spend on my assignments or my studies, but other times she tells me how proud she is and how much I inspire her and that fills me with emotion and helps me to move forward with my goal.”  Best of luck Vanesa!

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!

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