Minds We Meet! — Kristen

Interviewing Students Like You!

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Kristen (she/her), a 27-year old, third year Bachelor of Science in Computing and Information Systems student—with hopes of “a job in cyber security, doing something like penetration testing”—currently located in Blackfalds, Alberta.  Kristen acknowledged, “Blackfalds is situated on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional meeting grounds, gathering place, and traveling route to the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Métis, Dene, and Nakota Sioux.”

On a personal note, Kristen was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and “was raised all over Canada,” including PEI, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Alberta.  “Because I have moved around so much, I have been to over well over 10 different schools between kindergarten and grade 12,” she explained.

Kristen had some great advice for fellow students, including ensuring that she is “in a comfortable and calm environment,” listening “to quiet classical music.”  She stated, “I also find it very important to set regular times every day for me to work on schoolwork because I find the regular routine very helpful for me.”

She also had some important advice to give to new students and/or prospective students.  “Something that I wished I had known when I was a new student is that it is important to fill out a program plan and submit it to advising.  Because I did not do this, I accidentally took some fall-through classes, so make sure you know your requirements and submit a program plan for approval!”  She continued, “Also, because there are no classes, it is extremely important to make a schedule and stick to it to make sure you get everything done and handed in in a timely manner and that you give yourself adequate time to study for your exams.”

When this busy student is not studying, she enjoys “playing video games, watching TV shows, or movies, studying cyber security stuff, or working on programming side projects.”  She also dreams of visiting “Japan, South Korea, Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, and many more” one day.

The Voice Magazine asked who in her life had the greatest influence on her desire to learn and Kristen credited her boyfriend, parents, and siblings with helping her find the motivation to begin her degree.

As for her experience with online learning so far?  “So far, online learning has been enjoyable.  It really does take a lot of discipline to ensure you get everything done in a timely manner so as to not fall behind.  It is really flexible, and I really enjoy how I can take my classes with me anywhere if I am traveling to see family or even just on a day trip, I can access everything from my cell phone and do schoolwork and read my textbooks.”

Her most memorable course so far has been COMP 348: Network Programming in Java, “because it was really interesting to learn more about Java and how programs work and communicate over a network.”  She continued “The last assignment for this class was making 3 programs, 1 to send an email, 1 to send an email with an attachment, and 1 to retrieve and display the emails.  It was a lot of fun and it was really cool being able to make something like that.”

She has also found communication with her course tutors “very good,” explaining, “All of my tutors have been great, they have responded to my inquiries quickly, provided insightful feedback on my assignments, and have all been very pleasant.”

If she were the new president of AU, her first project “would be to implement some type of lectures, either pre-recorded lectures or live lectures, or both.  I feel that this is something that all students would benefit from as they act as another resource for courses and video and/or live lectures can add clarity to things better than when it is said over email.”  She added, “I feel that this would also open the University up to other people that may have been discouraged from attending AU due to the lack of lectures and the full, 100% independent learning because some people cannot learn this way but cannot attend in-person universities.”

The Voice Magazine also asked Kristen which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why, and she chose actors Ryan Reynolds and his wife, Blake Lively, “because they are both hilarious.”

She also let us know about her most valuable lesson learned in life.  “I think that the most valuable lesson that I have learned in life is not to be too hard on yourself.  While it is important to be disciplined and strive to do great things, being needlessly mean to yourself is just the worst thing that you can do because it is so demoralizing and demotivating.”

As for her proudest moment? “I think the proudest moment in my life was when I was working at an automotive service center and my manager was leaving to pursue a career elsewhere, she asked me to take over the shop and become the manager when she left, and that is what I was doing before I started attending Athabasca University.”

As a final note, Kristen added, “I am really grateful for Athabasca University because if it wasn’t for my ability to get a post-secondary education online, I honestly don’t know that I would be getting one because I have anxiety and that makes attending traditional in-person schooling very difficult for me.”  Best of luck Kristen!

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!