The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Kalob Sharan (he/him), a Bachelor of Commerce student, with a major in Human Resources Management, located in Surrey, British Columbia. Kalob stated, “I would like to acknowledge that the land I work, study, and live on is part of the Kwantlen First Nation’s territory. He plans to continue on to AU’s Master of Counselling program post-convocation, and has already “planned several psychology courses as option credits.”
On a more personal note, Kalob was born and raised in Surrey, stating, “I am 18 years old and I am of mixed descent, my mom is Ukrainian/English and my dad is Indian. I didn’t do so well in high school due to both my great grandparents passing away in grade 12 and it took a big effect on my health. Most universities wouldn’t even consider me, but Athabasca took me in without question and I am loving the quality of this education so far. I am currently working on my first three courses of my program while working 32 hours a week, but will go full-time as a student in September.”
This AU student had some great study tips to share with fellow learners. “I best study in a quiet environment with some classical music or music I like playing in the background. Sometimes I also enjoy a quiet YouTube video playing in the background.”
He also had some tips for new students like himself. “The only two pieces of advice I have for new students are to treat online university just like regular school and create a schedule as soon as you get to see your first few courses. Unlike regular universities, where professors plan out the whole year with AU, you plan it out yourself and are just given a course end date. You can get really behind if you procrastinate too much. The other piece of advice I have is to keep in touch with your high school friend group and try to connect with as many people as you can outside of that as well. Online school can make you feel really alone unless you know many people to talk to and meet with.”
When he is not busy studying, Kalob enjoys watching Netflix, including series such as “Suits,” “Brooklyn 99,” “Riverdale,” and “Everybody Hates Chris”; gardening; and catching up on sleep. He continued, “I am also a Taekwondo 1st Dan blackbelt so I like to practice that whenever I have a chance as that counts as my exercise for the day.”
This busy student also finds time to read, sharing that the Harry Potter series has “had such a big impact on me since I relate to them so much. Harry Potter came from not having his parents, and studying really hard with a dark wizard after him to succeeding in all his classes and defeating the dark wizard defying all deniability.”
He also lets us know about his most memorable vacation, which “was to Saigon Vietnam for [his] aunt’s wedding.” He recounted, “It was 35 degrees Celsius and I wore a suit for the flight, the moment we touched down I had to strip down to my undergarments, or else I would boil alive. The cost of living there is low as well as beautiful views of the many islands and clean air.”
He credits his grandfather as the one person who has had the greatest influence on his desire to learn. He explained, “He was a schoolteacher in his home country Fiji. He keeps encouraging me every day to keep up with my studies. He has gone through many hard times in his day and still kept the family surviving, all the while going to school and earning his degree. He gave me the motivation and the privilege I have to study hard and earn my degree.” He continued, “I will be the first person in my family with a degree in Canada.”
Although a newer student, Kalob’s experience with online learning has been “great,” so far, and he notes, “it is sort of a continuation of high school since I also did my high school online.” He continued, “I love the fact that my studies are at my own pace, and that I can do whatever I want to do during class instead of being stuck in a room for 4 hours. The only dislike I have about online university is that it is very hard to make or meet any friends. I find that when I was in high school, I had my own little friend group to study online with and it helped to have a peer to ask whenever I came across a problem. I really wish AU had some sort of networking in place to get students to communicate with each other. Sort of like some courses have their own optional team pages.”
Although he cannot yet choose a favourite course, he does find his current courses interesting, including ACCT 253: Introductory Financial Accounting, in which “the instructor is really great with communication, as well as the established course content.” He added, “I also do accounting as my part-time job, so it really enforces my views on accounting from a career perspective. FYI, I am also taking ADMN 232: Introduction to Management as well as ECON 247: Microeconomics. I am finding all of those courses great.”
He also points out that “Communication with my course tutors has been excellent so far, they have been open with course expectations and usually communicate back to me within a business day if I have any problems. They are very kind people.”
The Voice Magazine asked Kalob what his first project would be if he were the next president of AU. “I would make is to hire a social media team to get the word about our school out worldwide. I am very surprised that I found this school as I did heavy research about online schools in Canada. If I was the new president, I would make sure that if someone searched Google for online school Canada, we should be the first result to pop up. The next action I would take is to develop a student networking app that would allow students from similar geographic locations as well as programs of study to network with each other,” he explained.
We also asked which famous person, past or present, he would like to have lunch with and why, and Kalob chose “either Warren Buffet or Bill Gates the world’s richest people.” “It would be at a five-star restaurant and I would discuss with them how they were successful, how did they fight procrastination, and what made them determined to open up their business. How did they become successful? All of those questions answered and I would follow in their footsteps to become successful,” he stated.
On a final note, Kalob shared the most valuable lesson of life that he learned in life, namely to “never let anyone tell you anything is impossible.” He explained, “I came from a really poor, non-educated family; all my friends were saying I would never make it to university. I proved them wrong, and I will prove them even more wrong when I graduate with my Bachelor’s.”
And his proudest moment? That would be obtaining his “first-degree black belt in taekwondo after 13 years of practicing.” Best of luck Kalob!
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!