Minds We Meet—Judie Lavigne

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Judie Lavigne (she/her), a Bachelor of Commerce – Accounting Major student located in Camrose County, Alberta, who plans to graduate by August 2025.  As for her future plans?  “Not sure where I am going to go when I’m done but right now my plan is to continue on to earn my CPA.  But, right now, taking it one day at a time,” she stated.

On a personal note, Judie is “a 43-year-old woman, born in Medley, AB but grew up in Edmonton for the most part.”  She continued, “I did live in the Okanagan for a few years when I was a teen.  I have 3 kids, 2 daughters and a son as well as a 5-year-old grandson.  I live in a little hamlet in Camrose County with my husky, Nani and my cat, Angel.  I have been working full-time for an oilfield company in Edmonton for 12 years as a Jr Business Analyst/Accounts Receivable clerk as well as being a full-time student with AU for the last 2 years.  Needless to say, my life in very busy.”

This occupied student had some great study tips for fellow AU peers.  “When studying I always have to have the TV on, just something to listen to in the background and its always old TV series like CSI, or other criminal shows.   I can’t listen to music, as I lose focus and just want to get up and dance.  When I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, I think about why I started this journey and what my goals are.  I look at my kids and grandson’s pictures on my walls and it gets me focused again.  There have been so many times that I second guess myself but they are the best motivators.  Or another way is to take a break and get up and workout.  I love doing yoga and using my hula hoop or I get up and take Nani for a walk.”

She also had some pertinent advice for new students and prospective students.  “Best advice I can give anyone, set a schedule and stick to it.  There will be times when of course life in gets in the way, but try to stay on track as much as possible.  If you need to take a break, then do it or you will just burn out and want to give up.  On exam day close the books, tablet, laptop whatever you use to study and do something that helps you relax.  For me, I turn up my music, clean my kitchen and just dance around the house playing fetch with Nani.  Do something that helps clear your mind, keep you calm so that when you go to write you don’t feel overwhelmed.”

She continued, “Something that I have had to learn, unfortunately the hard way, is to have people around you who support and cheer you on, not people who think you are selfish for putting your studies first.  And for those that you think who would or should be there by your side during your journey that abandon you then it is a blessing and you do not need them in your life.   Remember that you are doing this for you!”

When she is not working or studying, Judie finds time “to hit gym.”  She stated, “I try to every other day, and, on the days that I can’t, I workout at home.  I enjoy taking my husky out for walks or for road trips to the mountains, that’s my happy place, where I can clear my mind and refocus on what I need to get done.  When I can find the time I enjoy going golfing with my aunt.  If I could be outside all summer, then I would be.”

Judie also shared two important people in her life that have had the greatest influence on her desire to learn.  “My Aunt Angela has had the biggest impact on me.  She is one of my biggest supporters.  My aunt got married, had kids and it wasn’t until they were older where she went and pursued her dreams and went to college.  It’s the same thing that I have done, I got married and had kids very young and put off pursuing my degree until they were out of the house, and when I can focus on putting my dreams first.  Watching her showed me, even though I am starting my degree later in life, that if you want it, go for it.”

She also credits her middle child, Sylvia, as “a great influence.”  She explained, “I know it’s probably funny to say that, as she is my child, but she is one of my biggest cheerleaders.  She is a hard worker and goes after what she wants and doesn’t stop until she gets it.  I’m very proud of her, she inspires me to keep going even when things in my life haven’t been the greatest over the last few years.”

Judie let us know about a very memorable vacation, which was also coincidentally with her Aunt Angela.  “The first trip I took out of the country was to Hawaii with my Aunt Angela to go and visit my great Aunt Blanche.  Hawaii is special to me as my grandma would go there during the winter for three months to visit her sister.  My only wish is that I could have done my first trip over there with her, but she passed before I could go.  It’s the first plane ride that I can remember the feeling of the takeoff and landing.  It was so amazing.  Walking on the beach, the first time being in the ocean, even thinking about it now takes me back.”

As for her experience with online learning so far?  “Learning online takes a lot of discipline to stay focused and on schedule.  I love it as I like to be challenged.  I am the type of person where I need to be left alone to figure out solutions.  I’m like this at work too.  Whenever there is a project that needs to be done I can figure things out better and have a better understanding when I’m working on it alone.”

“I also like being able to come home after working all day, put comfy clothes on, sit on the couch where I can grab my iPad or textbook, and study or work on assignments.  During the summer I can work on my studies anywhere instead of being in a classroom.  Whether it’s just sitting outside in the sun, or by the fire, or even down at my aunt & uncle’s trailer at the golf course,” she stated.

Judie’s most memorable AU course so far has been CMIS 245: Microcomputer Applications in Business (Windows).  “I enjoy working with the Microsoft Office programs and I’m pretty good at them too.  It was the easiest course so far and I completed it in three days.  Think that’s why it’s so memorable, because when I think about it I just laugh.  Easiest A I ever got,” she explained.

As for communications with her course tutors?  “When I have reached out to my course tutors, and it has only been a few times, they have all been great.  Gotten back to me quickly and have helped tremendously.”

The Voice Magazine also asked Judie what her first project would be if she were to become the new president of AU.  She lets us know, “I would want to hear from students on their concerns about how the exams are invigilated.  I know for myself I have had issues with ProctorU, as well I have heard many stories of other students having issues.  Whether it is due to certain rules they have (and they all seem to be different depending on who is watching you) to having issues with the connections.  I know for myself that I have had issues with them saying that my connection isn’t good, but I know from testing my internet speeds before I write that they are fine.  I would want to work with the students and staff and see if there is another way that this situation could be rectified, whether that means AU starts their own online invigilation for exams.  Another issue I know for myself is having to pay to take an exam online.  As a student I pay a lot in fees and to have to come up with extra fees to write is hard to come up with.  Maybe start something to help students like we do with the food program that you can apply for we could do the same to help alleviate the associated costs with taking exams.”

Judie’s most valuable lesson learned in life is that she has “had to learn is that people leave, whether it is because they have passed away or by just walking out the door.”  She continued, “As much as this hurts, no matter what the situation is, you have to keep going and move forward with your life.  Those that stay by your side when you are at your lowest are the ones who deserve to be there when you are at your highest.  Don’t let those who walk away when you need them the most come back to be there for you when you are back on top.”

And her proudest moment?  “I have a few proud moments and it is too hard to pick just one.  Watching my oldest daughter, Jen, getting married and her giving birth to my grandson, Noah.  My daughter Sylvia and her graduation; not just high school but her becoming a dental assistant as well.  My son Ethan, him finally passing his learners. I was so happy for him as he was so frustrated with taking the exam a few times.”

Best of luck Judie!

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!