Minds We Meet—Nicki Clarke

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Nicki Clarke (she/her), a Bachelor of Science, Post Diploma student currently residing in Regina, Saskatchewan, which she acknowledged is Treaty 4 territory.

Nicki let The Voice Magazine know a bit about herself, stating “I’ve been working as a hydrometric technologist (monitoring water levels) for Environment Climate Change Canada for 17 years.  With the last 7 years I’ve had health issues as a result of multiple autoimmune diseases, with the one that effects my life the most being Addison’s Disease.  It’s a rare disease that can be life-threatening and affects me to various degrees on a day-to-day basis.  I have an amazing 11-year-old son that is my biggest encourager.”  She credits her “super curious son” as having the greatest influence on her desire to learn.  “We’re always researching the most random ideas that come from his off the wall questions,” she explained.

She continued, “I have two college diplomas that worked well for my career as a field worker, but in order to obtain a job with a higher desk component I need a degree.  This education will enable me to continue working in the science I love (environmental/hydrology), with less strain on my body.”

The Voice Magazine also asked Nicki about how she best studies, and she had a few tips for fellow learners!  “My last exam I wrote out definitions, ideas, etc., then made a voice recording of it.  I played it on my headphones when I was walking, gardening, doing dishes, etc.  It enabled me to ‘passively study’ while still getting all the things done that a single mother needs to do.”

She also had some great advice for new students.  “Contact the Accessibility Services if you have any questions.  Sometimes my disease doesn’t affect me at all and I live a completely healthy life, but sometimes I spend weeks in bed, or a simple cold or infection ends with a week- long hospitalization.  With the accommodations Accessibility Services has helped me get, these incidents don’t affect my schoolwork and I can focus on my health and my family.”

When she is not studying, Nicki enjoys outdoor activities, including “hiking, biking, canoeing, snowshoeing, camping.”  She stated, “This summer my son and I went on a 5-day canoe trip, and next year I hope to do a hiking trip of the same length.  I do a lot of volunteer work as well, with people affected by homelessness and Substance Abuse issues.”  She also “read[s] all the time, from all authors and subjects.”

The Voice Magazine also asked Nicki about her most memorable vacation.  She let us know, “Any of my hiking or canoe trips.  Being out in nature and self-sufficient is the most relaxing and recharging thing I can do.  I love being off the grid and uncontactable and having to rely on what I brought or can gather.”

As for her experience with online learning so far?  “In general, it’s been good.  I love how it fits into my life and I can choose the times I work on it.  I’d love if there were some lectures/videos, as I find it can get tedious reading so much.”

Her most memorable AU course so far has been PHIL 371: Ethics in Science and Technology.  “I found this course very eye-opening as it presented many sides of issues that I hadn’t quite considered.  I went into the course with a definite opinion on cloning and bioethics, and left the course very confused and conflicted.  Sometimes it’s enthralling to learn how much I don’t know, and how much more there is to learn,” she explained.

As for communication with her course tutors?  “I’ve had amazing tutors that got back to me right away, with incredibly helpful feedback and I’ve had tutors the opposite.  I try to remember that they are just people with jobs, and I don’t know how busy or overworked they are, but it’s annoying when you’re stuck waiting for responses.”

If she were the new president of AU, Nicki’s first project would be to “work on the relationship with the Alberta Government and try to show them the value of AU.”  She continued, “I’d also try to work with University of Alberta to include their Indigenous Canada course somehow.”

On a more personal note, Nicki’s most valuable lesson learned in life is one that may resonate with learners.  “If you keep being disappointed in someone for not being able to do/give you what you need, it’s time to adjust your expectations.”  And her proudest moment in life?  “Holding my newborn baby boy in my arms.  I had a difficult, life-threatening childbirth and wasn’t able to meet him for three days.  When I was finally well and strong enough to I was overcome with how much I loved him.”  Best of luck Nicki!

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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