Minds We Meet—Jessica Anderson

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Jessica Anderson (she/her), a third year Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations (BHRLR) student, who is currently residing in Airdrie, Alberta with her family, although she is “a born and raised Calgarian.”  Jessica added, “The City of Airdrie is located on Treaty 7 territory.  I acknowledge this land as the traditional home of the Blackfoot Confederacy, including the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai, the Tsuut’ina Nation and Stoney-Nakoda Nations, including the Goodstoney, Chiniki, and Bearspaw, and the People of Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.”  She continued, “I am a proud Metis person on my mother’s side.  I live with my husband Chris and our two daughters Matilda and Maeve.  Also dog-mom to Lulu and DeeDee (Yorkie Jack Russell Cross and a Schnauzer).”

“Although currently enrolled in the BHRLR degree program, she had previously completed her University Certificate in Human Resources and Labour Relations from Athabasca University (AU) in 2017.  She stated, “I will be returning to work as a HRIS Analyst in January; however, once I complete my program, I plan on completing AFOA Canada’s Certified Indigenous Human Resources Professional program designation and the CHRP Program.  My long-term goal is to continue my career as an HR professional in career counselling specifically assisting Indigenous youth [to] figure out what path they can take to achieve the career they want.  I would also like to be proficient in Indigenous diversity training for corporations during the hiring process.”

The Voice Magazine also asked Jessica for some study tips, and she had some great ones for AU learners!  “I’m such a technology-based learner so I appreciate the e-text programs that allow me to highlight the e-text, create flashcards on the spot and access wherever I am.  I also schedule study time (go-time is nap time and after bedtime when my kiddos are asleep!) and utilize a calendar/study schedule of my own creation.  Keeping myself organized is key for me and I even schedule in time when I’m not studying to make sure I don’t burn out.  (Sundays are my off day!)”

She also had some advice for new students, stating, “If you are taking multiple courses at once, make sure you balance courses with final exam requirements vs those without a final exam.  For example, if I’m taking four courses, I ensure only one or two have final exams.  I struggle with final exams so ensuring I am not trying to remember more than one or two courses full of content really helps me!  Also go to the orientations, attend AUSU events, get as involved virtually as you can —your voice matters!”

When she is not studying, she spends time with her family, reads books, cuddles her dogs, and enjoys soccer and boxing.

Jessica’s love of reading was evident as The Voice Magazine inquired about which famous person, past or present, she like to have lunch with, and why.  Jessica chose Agatha Christie, stating, “I’m a huge murder mystery fan and adore her books.  We wouldn’t have lunch but have afternoon tea because we share a love for tea.  She used to put clotted cream in her tea, and I would if I could!”  She also had a choice of book that has had an impact on her life, namely The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay.  “It’s amazing how clutter can impact your mental health negatively.  I learned to focus on owning less and instead creating experiences/memories for our family being together.”

She credits her husband with having the greatest influence on her desire to learn.  She stated, “Super cheesy, but my husband has influenced me the greatest.  He is the most intelligent person I know and has this motivation to accomplish anything he sets his mind to is so inspiring.  He is an excellent writer, very involved in the Dungeons and Dragons community, taught himself how to 3D print miniature figurines and paint them.  He is always very supportive of anything I pursue and encourages me to do what makes me happy.”

She also described her most memorable vacation with her husband.  “Our honeymoon was magical in Disney World!  We spent too much money on mickey ears, Halloween memorabilia and yummy food!”

Her experience with online learning has been positive so far.  “I find technology-based learning easier than traditional brick and mortal schools (I was at Mount Royal for a few years) and love the flexibility to be able to raise my family, work full-time and continue with my education,” she stated.

Her most memorable AU course has been HRMT 386: Introduction to Human Resource Management.  She stated that it was one of her first courses at AU, and had solidified her commitment to HR.  In addition, Jessica also enjoyed CMIS 311: Supporting End-User Computing, mentioning her “wonderful” tutor, Terry Taylor.

As for communication with her course tutors?  “Honestly, I think the response time could be faster.  I would love to see virtual tutor and student introductions so we can get to know the tutor at the beginning of each course.  It could be during the tutor office hours and that way we have a face to the person marking our assignments and exam.  Will be an opportunity to ask questions because I’m sure the tutors receive the same questions over and over from students via email.”

If she were the new president of AU, Jessica’s first project would be “Zoom Tutor Lessons (at least an introduction with each course to start) where tutors and their students can get together in an interactive environment for common questions and answers can be discussed.”  She continued, “I would also make the Student Orientation for AU – Moodle (or new system) mandatory completion before any courses can be enrolled.  I’d like to see a chat function during business hours that can be recorded (a ticket can be created in the back end) and answer the one-off questions students have so they don’t have to wait up to 2 business days.”

On a personal note, Jessica’s shared her most valuable lesson learned in life.  “My dad is my hero.  He’s given me a lot of life lessons along the way but the one that stuck out the most was when he said to me ‘The opinion of others does not matter.  All that matters is what you think and what you want.’  It’s part of why I wanted to finish my degree, I want to finish what I started.”  And her proudest moment?  “The birth of our two daughters.  They are the absolute best parts of my husband and I.”

As a final note, Jessica let us know, “I really appreciate AU and the part they have had on my education journey.  Yes, the road has been bumpy from when I started in 2014 but I know this is where I’m ultimately supposed to be.”  Best of luck Jessica!

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!