The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Melanie Rousseau (she/her), a Post Diploma, Bachelor of Science program student, from Windsor, Ontario. She explained that she “recently transitioned from part-time studies to full-time studies to prioritize finishing the undergraduate degree in less than two years.” She plans to use this upgraded knowledge at the chemistry lab she currently works “to offer more as a worker and mentor to others.” As an out-of-province learner, Melanie also hopes to visit Athabasca University at least once.
Melanie is an experienced learner. She stated, “My school background includes a three-year advanced diploma in chemistry at St. Clair College, as I’ve always had an interest with branches of physical science. I am a current member of the Program Advisory Committee as an alumni representative for the chemistry department, offering direction and expertise for improvement of the curriculum to better match the chemical industry. I moved into the city about four years ago to be closer to my full-time job.”
She had some great personal study tips to share with fellow AU students. “My most successful study times are by myself, in complete silence. I thrive best when I am alone with my thoughts and able to give my brain the full patience and attention it needs to grasp my content. The best study tip is creating both to-do lists and completed lists! This way you are able to track what needs to be done, as well as celebrate your accomplishments. Discouraging thoughts can be easy if we do not celebrate our small wins,” she stated.
She also had some advice for students at the beginning of their journeys. “No matter how much you have on your weeks’ schedule, eat dinner, and close the books by 9:00pm. A proper sleep schedule and diet is what will keep you afloat mentally and physically during the stressful periods. You show up for your classes and assignments day after day, so this gives you all the more reason to prioritize and show up for yourself as well,” she advised.
When she is not studying, Melanie enjoys running and baking, explaining that these are her “two ways of relieving stress and expanding [her] mind to new limits.” She stated, “I ran my first half marathon in 2021 and hope that one day I can run a full marathon (after school perhaps – one goal at a time)! I have a sweet tooth for homemade desserts, so I love experimenting in the kitchen with limited ingredients and no recipe just to see what I will get. I also appreciate greenery hikes and lounging, as I take any opportunity I get to visit national parks inside and outside of the province. I have a love for instrumental music and spend much of my free time with orchestral or piano tunes in the background.”
Melanie also shared a book that has had an impact on her life. “I recently read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and I believe it was one of the best books I’ve ever read. It impacted my life by inspiring me to learn about art more, as this is not my usual place of interest or expertise. It provides an array of intellectual theories and religious topics that I’ve never encountered or considered before. I always enjoy books that challenge me and help to expand my personal perspectives,” she explained.
She also let The Voice Magazine know about her most memorable vacation. “My most memorable vacation was a trip to Europe with two of my best friends in 2017. We visited England, Spain and France and left with a full heart and a bad sun burn. I have visited many areas of the Caribbean and Florida when I was younger, but this was by far the most diverse and adventurous two weeks I had in my life. My friend was on exchange for a semester in England, so I had the privilege of seeing her school, the friends she made, and the different cultures they had to share,” she recounted.
Melanie’s desire to learn comes “from many different teachers and mentors … over the years.” In particular, it was witnessing “their passion for topics they are teaching.” She continued, “I had the privilege in my last chemistry program to learn from some of the smartest and most inspiring people: in particular, Michael Siwek, my program coordinator.”
She also let us know that her “experience with online learning has put a serious test to [her] self-discipline.” She explained, “The amazing thing about Athabasca is that it is all dependent on whatever schedule works best for you, though the only way to be rewarded is through your self-discipline and hard work. It challenges you to set daily goals, and structure to the tasks you want to accomplish. My favourite aspect about online education is that it forces you to learn more about yourself: strengths and weaknesses, as well as what works for you and what may not. Although I miss the in-class dynamic sometimes, I appreciate that every decision I make during my educational journey is purely for me, not my teachers or peers.”
Her most memorable AU course has been SCIE 326: Scientific Reasoning, as it provided purpose to a lot the material [she is studying] currently, and plan[s] to study in the future.” She continued, “It also gave me my first solid experience for university writing, as I hope to build my skills further to write strong essays.”
As for communication with her course tutors? “Communication with my tutors have varied from course to course and depending on how often I reach out. Many have been very quick to providing constructive feedback and phone calls to allow for more personalized guidance, while others offer a bit less communication. Each tutor has contributed to my success in the courses to at least some degree.”
The Voice Magazine also asked Melanie what her first project would be if she were the new president of AU. She stated that it “would be to find more affordable routes for local and remote students to take the courses needed for their academic goals.” She continued, “School, even for one course at a time, can be expensive, especially if you live out of town from the university and have to pay extra fees and shipping for laboratory kits. Perhaps different services such as used book sales, could be introduced to be more financially friendly.”
When asked which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why, Melanie chose Michael Jackson, “one of [her] favourite late musicians.” She continued, “I discovered his music on vacation when I was 10, and have been a fan ever since. Considering some of his favourite foods consist of fried chicken and fresh fruit, that sounds perfect to me.”
Melanie also shared her most valuable lesson learned in life. “The most valuable lesson in life I have learned is to always prioritize the well-being of yourself before giving back to anything else. We often get lost in the obligations and people around us day-by-day, and take for granted the person we wake up and go to bed with every single day for the rest of our lives. The greatest investment we can ever contribute to is ourselves, even if it’s only 15 minutes of meditation in the morning, or a walk after dinner to move your body. This way, we are able to give back to the world with the full fuel to allow for ourselves.”
And her proudest moment? “One of the proudest moments in my life was when I ran my first half marathon in 2021. I have always loved running since high school and prioritized movement in my life, but this accomplishment at the time was a level outside of my comfort zone that I could have never imagined reaching. It gave me the reminder, mentally and physically, how capable I am of doing hard things in life even if it appears to be miles away (literally). It also gave me a sense of gratitude for the world of possibilities that our bodies can do for us.” Best of luck Melanie!
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!