Minds We Meet—Aisling O’Brien

Interviewing Students Like You!

The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Aisling O’Brien (she/her), a recent graduate from the Bachelor of General Studies program with a Designation in Arts and Science from Ottawa, Ontario.  Aisling acknowledged, “The City of Ottawa honours the peoples and land of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation.”

On a personal note, this 37-year old was born in Ottawa—as the middle child of three—is “a proud Auntie and [has] the cutest puppy named Púca.”

The recent grad had some great study tips for students still working on their degrees.  She stated, “It took me a while to figure out how I study best.  I tried it all.  What finally worked for me was sitting at a table, listening to smooth jazz and setting a timer for a break about 1.5 hours in.  Taking short breaks kept me energized and setting the timer allowed for me to keep my head down focusing on the assignment on hand rather than wondering how long I’d been studying for.”

As for her advice to those just beginning their AU journeys?  “Don’t give up.  It is not going to be easy but it IS going to be worth it.  Ask for help.  Remember, it is their job to help you!”

She also let readers know a little about her greatest influence of her desire to learn.  “My entire family influenced me.  From my sisters, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins they all inspired me, encouraged and supported me throughout my education!  My mum went to university as a mature student and a mother of 3.  Growing up, watching her studying, writing papers and growing.  Her drive and motivation is inspiring.  She showed me that if you want something badly enough you can achieve it no matter the obstacles or how tiring it can be.”

Like many students, Aisling had ups and downs with the online learning experience.  “There were definitely challenges with online learning from internet connections being lost during exams, or feeling like you’re teaching yourself and completely alone.  However, whenever these issues arose AU actively supported and helped me.  When I initially was looking at attending university I contacted a few to see where I wanted to go.  AU staff were so kind, informative, and accessible that I was instantly drawn to Athabasca University online education.”

In addition, she had a memorable course.  “That would have been WGST 322: Sexuality in Society.  “My educator was super connected with her students, the assignments were not just writing papers—believe it or not, some were actually fun!  They made you think, reflect, learn and grow.  The assignments triggered several questions that created hilarious and amazing conversations with friends and family.  I recommend this course to anyone who is open and interested in learning about relationships and what sexuality means,” she explained.

As for communication with her former course tutors?  “I think it absolutely depends on the tutor.  Sometimes I felt like I had made a new friend leaving the course while others I had 0 contact with.”

The Voice Magazine also asked Aisling which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why, and she chose Dolly Parton “[b]ecause she is DOLLY PARTON!”  She explained, “Not only does this super strong woman have incredible talent, she also has a huge passion for education and reading.  (Imagination Library):” And the lunch?  “Lunch would be definitely something southern.”

On a final note, we asked Aisling to tell us about her most valuable lesson learned in life.  She let us know that “you can’t fail at something if you don’t give up because then it is just your

Learning.”  Best of luck, Aisling!

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!