Minds We Meet—Briana Evans

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Briana Evans (she/her), a Master of Health Studies program—with a Leadership Focus—student from central Alberta.  Post-graduation, Briana plans “to continue to work toward [her] goal of being a successful health leader and help implement positive transformational system change into our health care system.”

On a personal note, Briana is “a proud Metis woman who is born and raised in Sylvan Lake, Alberta.”  She continued, “I have two crazy boys and am married to my best friend of 22 years.”

Briana had some great study tips for fellow AU learners.  “I am an  independent learner and work best when I can go into my office, close my door and fully focus.  However, since I am also working full time throughout my studies, I take my books with me everywhere, in the car, camping, travelling, etc. so I can study and work on projects any chance I get.  Completing my studies as quickly as possible keeps me motivated.”

She also had some advice to give to new students and/or prospective students.  “Time management is extremely important.  Study as much as you can while you have some quiet time but be sure to maintain a work/life or school/life balance.  You do not want to burn out!”

When this busy student is not studying, she enjoys “spending quality time” with her family.  She continued, “We just got back from Punta Cana and are looking forward to lots of camping in the summer.”

Briana credits her children with having had the greatest influence on her desire to learn.  “I didn’t have the easiest time growing up and my past is full of all sorts of traumas.  I decided to break away from the histories of my family and upbringing and show my kids that with hard work, you will be successful.  Make your own path and become who you want to be!”

As for her experience with online learning so far?  “I really enjoy online learning.  It allowed me to be successful in obtaining my bachelor’s degree while continuing to work full time.  I enjoy the flexibility and independent nature of completing my studies on a schedule that works for me.  Which is why I chose Athabasca University for my master’s program as well,” she explained.

She also let us know about a most memorable course.  “I would have to say that my most memorable course was Community Development back when I was doing my bachelor’s degree.  This course helped me formulate a vision of improving my community and actually acted as the basis of me starting up a non-profit society in my local community called the Youth Empowerment Awareness Hub (YEAH).”

Briana finds communications with her course tutors “easy and efficient.”  She continued, “They normally provide multiple channels so that you can get in touch with them efficiently when you need to.  This allows for a timely response, so you are not waiting forever and stressing about your studies.”

The Voice Magazine asked Briana what her first project would be if she were the new president of AU.  She mentioned that she would “reach out to the current students and see what is currently acting as a barrier to their learning.”  She explained, “AU strives to be a school with little to no barriers for learning and being successful in achieving your learning goals.  However, this does not mean that it is truly successful.  A quick survey or poll would help provide good insight into what the students value and want from the University and give the president an area for quality improvement for the next period.”

We also asked which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why.  She chose “nachos with Keanu Reeves,” mentioning, “He is a famous actor who is so humble and sees people for who they are.  He gives to those less fortunate and doesn’t live the big extravagant lifestyle as many other actors.  He has lived experiences and traumas just as many of us do and has used them to grow stronger.”

The most valuable lesson she has learned in life has been: “Just because you have traumas and struggles in life doesn’t mean that you must give up and let it become you and define who you are.  Use these traumas and struggles to grow stronger and push you to become the person that you are meant to be, and that you want to be.  Free yourself and make your own path to success.”

As for her proudest moment in life?  “Watching my oldest son overcome his struggles and make the choice to be who he wants to be, was the proudest moment in my life.  He made the choice to push negative people out of his life, made healthy choices, and is growing into the man that he wants to be.  I am doing my job as his mom.”

As a final note, Briana added, “I consider myself to be a lifelong learner and am really enjoying my journey as a student.  The student loans are not the greatest but knowing that I am a Metis woman who comes from the background and struggles that I have overcome and am breaking through barriers to be successful makes me feel so proud!  If I can do it, so can you.”  Best of luck Briana!

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!