Minds We Meet—Josh Flis

Interviewing Students Like You!

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Josh Flis, a student from Barrie, Ontario, who acknowledged that Barrie is “the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg people.”

Josh is “currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology,” with an “objective, depending on … academic performance, is to graduate in 2025 and then take the LSAT and/or MCAT examinations.”  The ambitious student continued, “This is part of my plan to embark on a career path in law or medicine.  However, I have a contingency plan in place: should my initial plan require adjustments, I intend to pursue a Master’s degree in education.”

Josh had some great study tips for fellow AU students.  “After three semesters, I’ve finally established an effective study routine.  This involves a combination of sketching, note-taking, self-testing, and reading.  Reading, despite being the most challenging part due to the concentration it requires, is crucial.  Sketching notes, such as theories, models, and concepts, helps me feel more engaged with the material.  Self-testing is a key component of my strategy, as its effectiveness is well-documented.  My note-taking approach has evolved; I used to jot down everything, but now I focus on summarizing and capturing specific details.  By reducing general notetaking and increasing reading and sketching, I’ve found the content to be more meaningful and less overwhelming.”

Josh continued, “My motivation stems from several sources.  First, my career aspirations – whether that’s becoming a doctor, lawyer, theorist, or educator – require academic excellence.  These career paths are driven by personal reasons.  Second, the sheer opportunity to learn motivates me.  Lastly, my innate curiosity and desire to understand things fuel my motivation.  My experiences with theory, theology, philosophy, leadership, crisis, success, and global exposure have fostered my love for people, health, justice, and learning.  One final piece of advice about studying: take breaks to walk or exercise.  Fresh air and increased blood circulation can rejuvenate your mind.”

As for advice for new students and/or prospective students?  “My advice to new students is to get comfortable with reading because good reading stamina and comprehension is going to translate into better writing, clearer thinking, and a greater experience.  Don’t resent the process of reading, but rather immerse yourself in it.  I’ve found myself laughing while I read textbooks, journals, and other material.  The authors of these texts are as funny sometimes as they are intelligent, and if you allow yourself to be intellectually humble and learn with integrity, you will not only read simple words, but you will hear the authors’ voice.”

When this busy student is not studying, Josh let us know about some favourite hobbies and pastimes.  “In my free time, when I’m not absorbed in my studies, I often find myself occupied with reading (at present, I’m juggling four books).  Besides that, I enjoy going for walks while listening to music, snowboarding, and cooking.  I also play some video games: Destiny 2, Halo, and Fortnite occasionally!  Having grown up in the era of SNES, VCRs, Myspace, and MSN Messenger, my hobbies align with those typical of an ‘elder’ millennial.”

Josh let us know about three memorable AU courses, namely PSYC 323: Developmental Psychology, SOCI 301: Social Statistics, and HUMN 313: Early Christians.

For PSYCH 323, Josh mentioned, “You know, my personal childhood experiences seemed to fuel my desire to dig deeper into this subject than I have in others.  I achieved my first perfect score (100%) on my final paper, a comparative analysis of Vygotsky and Piaget’s theories, which held profound significance for me.  I tend to take risks in my writing, and when these risks pay off, it not only boosts my confidence but also makes me feel like I’m thinking on the same wavelength as the theorists I study.”

As for SOCI 301?  “I took Social Stats out of necessity, not interest.  Surprisingly, I scored 88%, which was an unexpected and amusing outcome I will never forget.”

And HUMN 313?  “I chose early Christian history due to my existing strong understanding of the subject.  However, my grasp of theory and church history was often dismissed by my faith community, which was quite disheartening.  Nevertheless, HUMN 313 recognized and rewarded my insights, marking the first time my knowledge was acknowledged, which was truly uplifting.”

Josh’s communications with course tutors “varies,” explaining, “I can imagine that there is a lot on their plate.  As a student, I try not to bother my tutors unless something has been bothering me for a couple weeks or if something is obviously urgent.  From my understanding, no university experience offers as close of a tutor/student relationship as AU does.  I am thankful for the access I have to my tutors and for their input.  And look, if I don’t get the input that I am expecting, I just tell the tutor more directly that I need further help from them and try to schedule a 30–40-minute call.  Online learning isn’t always 100% digital, we can use the phone from time to time, eh!  Sometimes a good chat is all a student really needs.”

The Voice Magazine asked Josh about a possible first project if this student was hired as the new president of AU.  “As a student majoring in psychology and the hypothetical president of AU, my inaugural project would involve formulating strategies to enhance the AU experience by introducing new graduate programs in psychology.  For instance:  Can we integrate MBA coursework with advanced Psychology studies to establish a top-tier Organizational Psychology graduate program, akin to the Wharton School of Business?  Can we capitalize on our reputation for excellence in psychological research and education to launch a unique Psychology graduate program specializing in personality and learning development, thereby producing graduates who are coveted educators and sought-after researchers?”

Josh continued, “These proposals aim to ensure long-term sustainability and build on the progress AU has already made.  Naturally, such initiatives would require funding and resources.  After consulting with staff, reviewing other programs, and researching the most effective ways to implement these programs at AU, I, as President, would draft a letter of intent to the board and begin preparing an investment pitch to secure support.  The next steps would involve devising a strong, evidence-based plan, effectively communicating the opportunity.  And, of course being prepared to accept a certain degree of professional risk!”

Next, we asked which famous person, past or present, Josh would like to have lunch with, and why.  “I would love to sit with Carl Jung.  His deep understanding of the complex interplay between the mind, body, and spirit is so compelling.  Additionally, I’d enjoy the opportunity to spend time with CS Lewis, Freud, Robin Williams, and Hans Christenson, the renowned fairytale author.”

Josh also let us know about a valuable lesson learned in life.  “The most valuable lesson in my life is simple, ‘Life is a game, and there are levels to this.’  I don’t get caught up with measuring myself by others success.  Instead, I get inspired by other people’s successes and failures.  Live authentic, not arrogant.  Be humble but not humiliated.  Value truthfulness over deceit.  Be fair, because the spirit of good sportsmanship is the inherent expectation in this game of life.  No matter what kind of challenge comes along the way in life, meet those moments with dignity and integrity, but don’t forget to be clever when you can!”

And Josh’s proudest moment in life?  “In the business realm, one of my notable achievements was securing RX Drug Mart (now known as Neighborly Pharmacy) as an exclusive client when they initiated their retail pharmacy chain and acquired 23 Rexall stores across Canada.  I had the responsibility of establishing all 23 stores with new Pharmacy managers and staff pharmacists.  I take pride in having contributed to shaping the culture of an entire pharmacy chain.  I’ve collaborated with Loblaw, Walmart, McKesson, and numerous other retail pharmacy banners, but my experience with Neighborly Pharmacy was the most enjoyable and rewarding because it was a start-up experience that has blossomed into a great business, something I was intimately part of creating.”

As a final thought, Josh let students know, “Learning is the cornerstone of life, and the evolutionary result of risk/reward equilibration.  From cell divisions to our choices, we learn to keep learning.  I have an affinity for taking risks, a trait shaped by my upbringing where risk-taking was also a coping mechanism.  However, I’ve redirected my own risk-taking appetite from life choices and back into my writing style.  Personally, I’d prefer to be corrected for thinking too ambitiously than for not thinking ambitiously enough.  So, if I was to impart one final thought here for the other students, it would be this: know your limit and play within it.”  Best of luck Josh!

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!