Minds We Meet—Meghan Sandbeck

Interviewing Students Like You!

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Meghan Sandbeck (she/her), a Bachelor of Commerce student from Battelford, Saskatchewan, which she acknowledged as “Treaty 6 territory … the traditional territory of the Cree, Saulteaux, Stoney, Nakota, and Dakota, as well as the traditional homeland of the Métis Nation.”

She stated, “My major will either be finance or accounting.  I am waiting to see which course materials I prefer before declaring a major.  I hope to pursue my CPA designation after graduating.  In the future, I will likely pursue a master’s degree.”

On a personal note, Meghan stated, “I hold a journeyperson license in hairstyling.  After working in the beauty industry for 5 years, I was affected by health issues that ultimately led to my inability to continue with that career.  I was remarkably fortunate to be offered a position at an extraordinary community-based organization in my area, and I have worked there full-time now for nearly 4 years.  On top of working full-time, I parent my fierce daughters and am in the process of planning my wedding for July 2023.  Yep, I’m busy!  Deciding I wasn’t busy enough, I added full-time university studies to my plate.”

Meghan had some great study tips for fellow AU students.  “I am a very visual learner, so I create a spreadsheet with the suggested study schedules and break it down into chunks on a calendar so I can easily see where I am in my course timeline, compared to other courses.  This keeps me from hyper-focusing on only one course.”

She continued, “I study best by learning an entire concept, and then breaking it down into specific components.  I struggle learning specific components if I don’t understand how it all ties together in the end.  Of course, this makes school challenging!  When in doubt, I watch YouTube videos of entire concepts, and then return to my studies to learn the specific components.  We are so blessed to live in an age where vast arrays of information are readily available.”

She also some advice regarding motivation.  “My vision of the future, coupled with my memories of the past, keep me motivated.  Looking back on my life, I realize that every challenge I was handed I handled and made it through to the other side.  Now when I am experiencing challenges, I look at how far I’ve come, and how much better I am doing than I ever thought I would be.  I tell myself that one day, I will look back on my studying days and think the same thing.”

Meghan continued with some helpful advice for new students and prospective students.  “You can do this, don’t doubt yourself.  Utilize the tools Athabasca provides such as the Write Site, and don’t be afraid to ask your tutors to clarify unclear concepts.  Ensure you have a solid support system.”

She added, “Treating school like a job with a specific hour requirement helps me stay on track by allocating a certain amount of hours per week to my studies.  This allows me to schedule other ‘life stuff’ without feeling guilty about not working on school, because I account for those hours elsewhere in my week.  Having an hour requirement for myself also helps keep me sane.  If I complete the chapters/lessons that I had planned on before I hit my self-imposed hour requirement, I continue working and it feels great to get ‘ahead’ of where the suggested study schedule says I should be.  If I do not complete the chapters/lessons I had planned on, stepping away gives me a much-needed mental break.  After a mental break, I find when I resume my studies the following week, unclear concepts have subconsciously sunk in.”

When she is not busy studying, Meghan enjoys spending time with her children and partner, “working on wedding planning, and maintaining a social connection with …  friends.”

She also enjoys travel, describing a recent memorable vacation this summer with her “two daughters and a very dear, sacred friend of mine.”  She stated, “We went to Drumheller and the trip was incredibly enlightening.  Plus, I have not had many opportunities to take my girls on a vacation—so they were able to create lifelong memories which is huge to me.”

She also mentioned taking a memorable family vacation during childhood with her parents and sister to the mountains.  “Being from Saskatchewan, the mountains alone were sure an experience to take in.  I remember we stayed at a hot springs and had taken in opportunities to go white-water rafting, venture up on the Columbia icefields, take a gondola up a mountain, and take a horseback trail-ride through the valley.  I still aim to take my own children on this same vacation one day,” she reminisced.

Meghan let The Voice Magazine know about an author and book that have made an impact on her life, namely Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, which “has profoundly impacted my life by explaining why we should have the courage to show up in our own lives.”  She explained, “Also, in one of her presentations, ‘Why Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count,’ she encourages people to invite their critics into their lives, but not take on their feedback blindly, by using the dialogue: ‘I see you, I hear you, but I am going to show up and do this anyway.’  I intertwine this concept into my daily life when struggling with vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  It helps enable me to sort through whose opinions matter by defining who is ‘in the arena’ with me, and who are in the ‘cheap seats’ criticizing my choices.

Meghan credits many mentors and life lessons over the years who contributed to her desire to learn.  She then noted, “The top of the list, though, is a dear friend of mine who saw something inside of me and decided to take a chance on me.  I am so blessed to have this remarkable mentor.  She patiently guides me, laughs along-side me, and indirectly teaches me how to be a better person just by watching her.”

She continued, “Most of my adult life, I have felt that higher education was not on the table for me.  I had many conversations with her about my desire to pursue an undergraduate degree, and the situations holding me back.  She not only supported me, but fiercely encouraged me to follow my dreams, including helping me narrow down a program that I would enjoy and would be beneficial to me.”

Meghan’s experience with online learning had generally been positive.  “I enjoy online learning because of the flexibility.  I am able to bring just my laptop and noise cancelling headphones with me to family functions, my kids’ extracurriculars, and work (for studies over my lunch hour) without needing to lug textbooks around.  I am partial to online studies as I can study at my own pace – not a rigid timeline structure where I would almost certainly be either bored or struggling to keep up.  The biggest reason I appreciate online studies is that I can continue to work along-side my studies and provide for my family.  I likely would not have decided to return to post-secondary studies if attending physical classes was my only option.  Online learning has put my self-discipline to a serious test.  I also find it challenging that when I have a question, I need to wait (sometimes multiple days) for an answer.  When my mind is focused on a subject, I like to finalize my understanding in one sitting.”

Her most memorable AU course so far has been ACCT 253: Introductory Financial Accounting, which “is frustrating and challenging in an extreme way.”  In particular, she feels that “it is hard to describe the level of satisfaction when [she] finally understands a concept [she] had been struggling with.”

And communications with her course tutors?  “So far my course tutors have been incredible!  I receive very prompt responses with in-depth explanations.”

The Voice Magazine asked what her first project would be if she were the new president of AU.  “I would consolidate resources onto a single platform.  I am currently taking three courses: one course has a digital textbook I can access on VitalSource Bookshelf, one course has an online textbook with explorations on a specific site, and one course is a completely interactive platform on a separate specific site.  When first beginning my studies, it was an adjustment to get used to.”

As for which famous person, past or present, Meaghan would like to have lunch with, and why, she stated, “I would 100% choose to have lunch with Alecia Moore,” (who is more commonly known as P!nk.) Meaghan continued, “She sends an incredible message that you don’t need to change who you are for other people, and is such a strong role model to me.”  And the lunch?  “I wouldn’t be eating a single thing – I would spend the entire time listening to Alecia speak and impart wisdom on me.  I’m sure the saying is true to ‘never meet your heroes,’ however I cannot think of a single thing that would make me like and respect her less.  I am captivated anytime I hear her speak.”

She also let us know her most valuable lesson learned in life: “kindness and understanding are the foundation of everything.  Approach everything you do and everyone you meet with those qualities, and you will always have a community rallying behind you.”

And her proudest moment?  “The proudest moment of my life so far is a cumulative impact of proud moments.  Graduating grade 12 on schedule along-side my friends with a baby on my hip, earning a trade certificate with a 92.41% average and later going on to earn my journeyperson Red Seal endorsement.  Most recently, taking the leap of faith to return to post-secondary studies.  Looking back at all of the obstacles I have faced, I think about how insurmountable each one of them felt at the time.  These memories are both humbling and proudful at the same time.”  Best of luck Meghan!

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!