The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Chelsey Peat (she/her), a second year Sociology major with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from southern Alberta. Chelsey acknowledged, “I am located on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and I try to support and be a strong ally as well as active listener as we all work together to move forward and am committed to honouring the land from a place of knowing.”
On a personal note, Chelsey is a “happily married and mother of two,” who has worked “in healthcare for over a decade.” She currently works “at a college as a program assistant full time while [she] attend[s] AU.” She is “also working on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) certificate through the University of British Columbia,” explaining, “My goal is to work in the DEI field and work with organizations and companies to be better at representation and inclusion with marginalized individuals and employees.” She continued, “I am a facial differences advocate, and volunteer with several organizations to work for #faceequality.”
Chelsey had some great study tips for fellow AU students. “For myself, the best way I have learned to study is make flashcards, or rewrite notes. Anything where you’re saying the information out loud. I tend to hold onto something if it is audible instead of just visual. I may have made up a tune or two for memorizing things, but I know that helps me. My kids are my motivation, and they will even sit and run flashcards with me before an exam. I’m so lucky to have my cheering section there for me.”
She also had some advice to new students and/or prospective students. “Don’t ever assume. Don’t ever guess. It is one thing to make a highly educated guess, welcome to most theories, but to simply fly through readings, no notes and expect to pass an exam or course is a longshot at best. Instead, remember you have committed yourself to this, not for forever, but for the next couple years. Earn it, be proud of it and watch how far you flourish!”
This busy student finds some time to relax in between her work and courses. “I love to drive to Waterton National Park, which is only about 90 minutes from where I live, sit in the mountains and have a chill day with my family. Whether it’s a picnic down by Emerald Bay, going into the townsite for ice cream, or hiking one of the numerous trails it’s a great way to destress and connect with the family.”
She also finds time to read. “I’m sure I’m not the first, but I was in middle school when the Harry Potter books came out. J.K. Rowling didn’t realize her impact on me. I am a fan, and reading those books not only provided me with a safe destressing place but also a world where it didn’t matter what you looked like, you still got adventures, family, and connections. I have read the series with my kids, and we love them,” she mentioned.
Chelsey also enjoys travelling, describing a recent memorable vacation. “The most memorable vacation I have had was six years ago. My family and I drove over a couple days to Osoyoos, British Columbia. Not only was it over thirty degrees the whole time, I was also tending a six-month-old baby and trying to keep my other child happy while stuck in the car for the extended drive. What little sightseeing there was was too hot to enjoy and, really, once we got there, we spent more time in the pool then anything. I laugh about it now, but I don’t know how we did it.”
She credits her children with having had the greatest influence on her desire to learn. “My kids are my greatest influence to learn—to show them post-secondary is not scary. My teen thought I was crazy at first to want to go back to school. Yet she has also seen how I have prospered, gained knowledge, and even reconnected on similar topics she is taking in school,” she stated.
As for her experience with online learning so far? “When it comes to online learning, I have to say the experience has been great for the most part. Not worrying about travelling to school each day, I can fit studying into my life far easier. Along with the convenience of logging on from anywhere at anytime helps this mom when I happen to have a little bit of time here or there to work on assignments or notes.” She continued, “For myself, the only downside is the isolation like aspect. You don’t have the same social situations and interactions. I do follow a few groups through social media and keep up to date with the AU newsletters, so I feel connected, just not the same as someone physically going to school.”
She considers WGST 333: Goddess Mythology, Women’s Spirituality and Ecofeminism to be her most memorable course so far. She explained, “I am currently in this course, and I have to say I have always found historical study so fun, but going back in time through this course and revisiting and studying the patriarchal aspects of our human history has been astounding. I have researched similar topics before with studying various historical cultural aspects, but this course has been groundbreaking!”
As for communication with her course tutors? “For the most part communicating with my tutors has been good. From discussions on essay topics, to calling to go over study tips before an exam the tutors have always been there as a great support when I needed it. I have appreciated their feedback on countless assignments as it’s been a while since high school and essays, but their kind critiques have only helped me to gain better skills.”
Chelsey had some great ideas of some ideas that she would implement if she became the new president of AU. She stated, “As AU president I would continue to work on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion methods for all students. As an individual with a facial difference inclusion is very important to me and of course equity. Treating every individual, whether student, faculty, employee, or board member the same when it comes to respect, values, and expectations is critical if we are to demonstrate to the world how the world needs to function for the better.”
The Voice Magazine asked Chelsey which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why, and she chose James Partridge. “This incredible man passed away in 2020 but I looked up to him and his work for the facial differences’ community. He founded both the ‘Changing Faces’ and ‘Face Equality International’ both in the UK after years of the stigmatization due to facial burns suffered and surgeries as a young adult.” As for the lunch? “To be honest I don’t know if I could eat, I’d be to be excited to meet him. Just sit and sip some tea and try to envision the world as he had.”
Chelsey also let us know about her most valuable lesson learned in life. “The hardest obstacle you will ever face is learning to love yourself as you are. As someone who has dealt wit the wrath of bullies for my physical appearance, I can remember how hard my teen years were. Growing up not looking like anyone else was difficult, but I just kept fighting, kept working on me, and not letting the negative comments or stares pull me down. It’s a motto I still live by and something I certainly try to educate my kids on.”
And her proudest moment? “I am often stopped in public and asked about my facial birthmark and I always try to educate and show my kids the importance of educating as opposed to hiding. Both my daughters have watched me and as they grew and classmates, or friends or even complete strangers would ask both have jumped at the chance to say, ‘That’s my Mom and that’s her birthmark!’ I have been brought to tears a few times.” Best of luck Chelsey!
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!