Minds We Meet—Courtney Ware

Interviewing Students Like You!

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Courtney (she/they), a Bachelor of General Studies student with a focus on Anthropology and Indigenous Studies, who is “currently residing on the traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples with the colonized name of Victoria, BC.  Courtney stated, “I currently reside on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ speaking people as an uninvited guest.  I have resided on these lands since 2005 and am very grateful to call these beautiful lands home.  I spent my childhood and early 20’s on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and siʔáḿθɘt traditional territories.  My mother, Lori Montgomery, was born on the unceded Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory.  My grandmother, Lenore Montgomery, was born and raised on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and siʔáḿθɘt traditional territories.  I am of mixed European heritage, including Dutch and Eastern European on my father’s side and English and Irish on my mother’s.”

Post degree, Courtney hopes “to attend medical school,” with a focus “on focusing on rural medicine with marginalized populations (mental health addictions) from the longitudinal aspect.”

On a more personal note, although Courtney grew up in Vancouver, they moved to Victoria in 2005.  Courtney added, “As much as I try to move away from here I just can’t.  I currently work as a licensed practical nurse and nurse continence advisor in the urodynamics clinic in Victoria BC.  I have been a nurse for 13.5 years and, as much as I love my job, I have a huge desire and need to advance my education and hopefully become a physician.  I am not one for talking about myself; this is going to be a challenge for my medical school application.”

Courtney continued, “I have been on a nursing board for Urological nursing for six years.  I volunteer for a dog rescue organization based in Victoria and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  I love to garden, drink wine, and hang out in my hot tub.  I tend to be more introverted unless I am put into a situation where I am required to be extroverted.  As a Gemini, I am able to adapt to many situations.  I have been married to my best friend for the past 19 years.  He reminds me every day I’ve just how wonderful it is to be living right now, even with all of the destruction happening in the world.  Indigenous rights and sovereignty are very close to my heart and I work every day to unlearn all the colonized information and ways of knowing that I have lived and brought up with.  I am very fortunate to live in Victoria and enjoy living in my own home, where I’m able to garden and eat from the land.”

Courtney had some great study tips for fellow AU students.  “I best study with snacks, and multiple types of beverages, preferably in a quiet area where I can focus.  It could be a room at my local college, in my office at home, at the library, or at a coffee shop.  I always have my trusty headphones to listen to classical music.  I find that having a spreadsheet with deadlines keeps me accountable for finishing my courses on time.”

They also had some advice for new students and/or prospective students.  “Stay on top of your studies, set up a plan and try to stick to it as closely as possible.  Treat it like you would a job or in-class education.  Life does happen, but if you remember why you started, you will always finish.”

When this busy learner is not studying, Courtney finds time “to run, garden, and listen to music, preferably live music.”  They added, “I have two dogs that mean everything to me, and spending time with them brings me a ton of joy.  I also like to have a glass of wine with friends.  I love a good meal, some people buy things, but I would much rather spend money on food and experiences.”

They have also found time to travel, describing some recent adventures.  “We could play into the cliche of that one time I went to Europe or a road trip through the southern states.  However, my most memorable vacation was August 2022.  I went to Mexico for five days by myself.  I sat on my girlfriend’s deck, read three books, and watched Below Deck.  I went for walks and meals by myself and just enjoyed the silence of myself.”

Courtney’s most memorable AU course so far has been INST 301: Indigenous Education.  “That course is a must-have for everybody.  I feel as though it should be a requirement, just as English 255 is for every degree.  I am unsure as to why it is not a required course for everybody.  I found the material engaging, my tutor was phenomenal and willing to provide me with feedback in a constructive manner to assist with my learning, as a settler, that course shifted my life and how I live it to this day.  I recommend everybody take that course, and everyone that does agrees with me.  It is a life-changing course,” they explained.

However, their experience with communication with AU course tutors has been mixed.  “Some are wonderful and provide fantastic feedback while ensuring that you have a grasp of the subject matter.  Others are not accessible, do not respond to emails or questions and, take forever to mark assignments, then send rude responses when you inquire about the length of time between assignments,” they stated.

The Voice Magazine also asked Courtney what their first project would be if they were the new president of AU.  “I would audit each course and have all the tutors for each course come together to do PowerPoints or videos teaching the material so that the students have something other than the textbook to engage with.  I feel this could alleviate a lot of unnecessary emails and allow students and instructors to connect to each other and the material.”

Courtney also shared their most valuable lesson learned in life.  “Stay humble.  When somebody wants to teach you something, listen.  Negative feedback is just as good as positive feedback in some circumstances.  Grow and learn from your mistakes and others.”

And their proudest moment?  “Figuring out that I am smart enough and deserve all the good things that happen to me.”

As a final note, Courtney stated, “Post-secondary education is a journey.  I have discovered more about my like and dislikes than I can talk about.  Don’t believe everything you are taught in our colonized systems, do proper research.  I know more today than I did a year ago, and that is because I have had the honour of tutors and professors believing in me and pushing me to think outside the box and challenge myself and the systems.”  Best of luck Courtney!

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!

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