Minds We Meet—Tenille Harris

Interviewing Students Like You!

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Tenille Harris (she/her) from Medicine Hat, Alberta.  She stated, “I honor and acknowledge that I am situated on Treaty 7 and Treaty 4 territory, traditional lands of the Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (Blood), Pikani (Peigan), Stoney- Nakoda, and Tsuut`ina (Sarcee) as well as the Cree, Sioux and the Saulteaux bands of the Ojibwa peoples.  I also and acknowledge that I am on the Métis Nation within Region 3.”

Tenille is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Professional Arts, Human Services major.  “With this degree, I will be able to challenge the social work registration and hopefully obtain permanent employment as a Family School Liaison Worker,” she explained.

On a personal note, although Tenille, her husband, and her three children have made Medicine Hat their home, Tenille’s “roots are deep within a small town in Saskatchewan where [she] was born and raised.”  She continued, “So small, that when I graduated high school, there were only ten of us total.   Right out of high school, I went to college and obtained my Disability and Community Studies Diploma and continued to work in the disability services field for over 15 years.

“In January of 2020, I decided to take a huge leap of faith and switch gears in my field of expertise.  I decided to seek out employment working with children in a school setting and supporting them in overcoming their social and emotional barriers to learning.  Currently, I am employed with one of our local school districts working as a Family School Liaison Worker in a temporary position.”

Tenille had some great study tips for students.  “I best study with a quiet space (or coffee shop) and a good cup of coffee.  Because I have three children and a full-time job, I seek solitude whenever I can to work on my studies.  I find that knowing I have other commitments in my life motivates me to complete my course work when I have time, as I know it is sporadic and not often.  I would not be able to achieve completing my courses if it wasn’t for the love and support of my husband.  His work schedule and ongoing support provides me with opportunity to complete what I need to when he is on his time off,” she stated.

As for advice for new students and/or prospective students?  “To grant yourself grace.  As a mature student returning to school after having been working for over 15 years, grant yourself grace.  The first few courses are always rocky in any new program but be gentle on yourself as we are all learning.  I wish I would have known to look at all assignments in your course prior to starting the course material, so that as you work through and read the material, you are aware of what you are to be looking for in your assignments and can make notes accordingly.”

When she is not studying, she is “fully immersed in [her] role as a mother, teacher, and a friend.”  She also “enjoy[s] paddle boarding in the summer, and snowboarding in the winter.”  She added, “When I can, I try to get as much alone time as possible, this is what really fills my bucket when I am feeling deflated.”

Her family also enjoys travel, and Tenille described one memorable vacation, when she and her husband took their children to Disneyland.  She continued, “I was newly pregnant with our third child, and we took our, at the time, then 2- and 4-year-old to Disneyland.  Experiencing Disney through the eyes of your child is so magical.  So much so, that we have plans to go back next year.”

Her best friend, Desirea has had the greatest impact on her desire to learn.  “She has always been a huge advocate for lifelong learning and obtained her master’s degree at a very young age.  I was always inspired by her and her ability to expand her knowledge and home in on her special gifts and abilities.  Her success motivated me to seek my own,” she explained.

As for Tenille’s experience with online learning so far?  “Online learning has had its challenges for sure.  I would have loved to see more engagement between tutor, content, and learning.  At times it can feel like you are on your own little island, but the freedom to complete and design your own educational path is very convenient for people with families or other commitments.  Online learning has allowed me to work towards my dream of having a degree, right from my own home.”

Her most memorable course so far has been HSRV 322: Ideology and Policy Evolution, which “forced [her] to grow.”  She explained, “It forced me to heighten my standards relative to everything I had previously known.  It was not memorable as in interesting content, but more of memorable due to its challenges.”

As for communications with course tutors?  “I have found that communication with course tutors it completely depended on their priorities.  I have had tutors who were readily available and would responds to inquires quickly, and I have had others who have taken less than ideal time (over 3 weeks) for assignment markings and communication.”

If she were the new president of AU, her first project would be “creating more engaging course structure, meaning less reading, more teaching.”  She continued, “At times I find AU needs to embrace more innovative learning ideas.”

When The Voice Magazine asked, which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why, Tenille chose Beyoncé, calling herself “a die-hard Beyoncé fan.”  She continued, “I would absolutely love to have lunch with her and inquire about overcoming challenges and maintaining a growth mindset.”

Tenille also recommended an impactful book by another well-known celebrity.  “Recently, I read What Happened to You by Oprah Winfrey.  This book was so eye opening with regards to the situations and experiences that shape you.  I always look to expand my personal growth and understanding within my own healing journey, but it also was instrumental in understanding how to support individuals in their struggles and traumas.   I love trauma informed care!”

The most valuable lesson she has learned in life has been to “always trust the timing of things.”  She explained, “I have learned many times over that what you think is to be true for you, is not always, and may be only a steppingstone toward something greater than you have ever imagined.  I have been extremely disappointed in my life only to realize in hindsight that the failures led me to a much greater paths and outcomes.”

And her proudest moment?  “The proudest moment of my life is too hard to define in just one moment.  For sure I would say the birth of my three children, and witnessing their kindness, compassion, and empathy that they all possess towards others every day.  Raising social and emotionally healthy children makes me forever proud.”  Best of luck, Tenille!

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!


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