Located in the Ottawa Valley, this firefighter, wife, and mother of three boys has already completed two Diplomas, including Early Childhood Education in 2008 from Algonquin College, as well as the Social Service Worker program in 2014, also from Algonquin College. After her current AU Degree, Katrina is still undecided whether to pursue her master’s degree or to work toward law school. She explained, “Either way, my intentions are to be in a supportive role for women leaving intimate partner violence.”
The Voice Magazine asked this busy student how she best studies. “I find education without lectures both freeing and terrifying. It takes a lot of dedication to remain on track. For that reason, I plan ahead and live by schedules. I begin by reading the material, then look to various resources (YouTube and professional websites for example) to make the material feel comfortable. After that I create study cards that I read and reflect on. Although this type of education can be intimidating, I find it has given me skills that will benefit me in the future, such as being a self-starter and personal accountability,” she stated.
She also had some great advice for new students. “I have started living by the motto, ‘If I’m not ahead, I’m behind.’ Holding the keys to your own future without a professor in front of you can create panic at the end of the term. If I always feel a little bit ahead, I have time to fix anything that has been granted another opportunity while keeping me stress free.”
When she is not busy studying, Katrina enjoys spending time with her family. She added, “In addition to my children and spouse, I am the youngest of 7 children. We talk on our family group chats often with our mother, which keeps a sense of family even though we have all separated geographically. I also enjoy spending time with my best friend, who is my biggest support outside of my home.”
She has also found time in her busy life to relax, describing a memorable vacation. “I went to the east coast of Canada, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Sitting on the sandstone, watching the ocean is forever engraved in my mind.”
She also enjoys reading, letting The Voice Magazine know about the one book that has made an impact on her life, Harry Potter. “When things are difficult, or when I need comfort —I pick up the books. To imagine a place of magic and mystery has always been comforting.”
Katrina credits herself with having the greatest influence on her desire to learn. “I have gone through situations that have kept higher education from me. I felt like it was always just out of reach. With persistence I have made it to a place where it is tangible and real. As a child I had difficulties in school, and a teacher once told me I couldn’t make it. Since then, I have worked very hard to make sure that I am the only person who will decide how far I go and what I can do. There have been many situations since that have given me an excuse to stop but I don’t care for excuses much.”
As for her experience with online learning so far? “I like that I have the ability to design my plan. Although the study guides give great examples, I can modify it as I wish. That can be a challenge in its own right, but the flexibility as a parent is appreciated.”
And communication with her course tutors? “I find them helpful and available. Considering their students are at all different points in the course, they have always been accommodating and quick to respond,” she stated.
If Katrina were the new president of AU, she would implement video lectures, explaining, “I would love if some of the courses had lectures that could be accessed to help with challenging concepts.”
When asked which famous person past or present she would like to have lunch with and why, Katrina chose Anne Frank. “As young female in such a devastating situation, I have always found her to be the strongest person I can think of,” she stated.
The Voice Magazine also asked Katrina about her most valuable lesson learned in life. She stated, “You are the only person to choose your destiny. Everything you do, and don’t do is your decision—so choose wisely.” And her proudest moment? “When me and my children started our new life after leaving a very challenging family situation. Knowing that the hardest days were ahead of me, and choosing to give them the best life regardless of the difficulties was my proudest moment. Here we are, 7 years later living the life I dreamed of.” Best of luck Katrina!
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!