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Athabasca University

Erika Walter

BPA Communication Studies - 2014

I had delayed my University studies and a number of full scholarships for a career in Equestrian sport, but after a serious car accident, I began taking part-time classes at St. Mary’s University College in Calgary, while undergoing intensive physiotherapy sessions. My physical injuries included swelling on my brain, which for the short-term affected my memory and ability to read and long-term resulted in headaches.

After taking some theater studies courses that I enjoyed, I assessed that a Communications Studies degree might be a better fit for me than those degree concentrations offered at the traditional college. Additionally, it was difficult for me to sit through an entire lecture, whereas the work at home structure of Athabasca made more sense for my physical challenges. And, as I was an adult student, the flexibility to work part-time hours was easier to schedule at AU.

Erika Walter

Once I finished the requirements for a minor in Theatre Studies, I transferred my credit and, with some previous University course work, it worked out that I had a little over two years and many of the core requirements completed. This allowed me to take a number of interesting options from the Communication Studies sector, working closely with some amazing instructors, especially in short story and screenwriting.

I had previously worked in the fashion industry, been in a number of commercials and hosted television shows, mostly in Asia. I found my interest in telling stories through the visual medium of scripts and the creation of short stories was fostered and encouraged at AU. The structure at AU also allowed me to take very last minute auditions, and so I was able to enhance my acting resume and co-write a screenplay that is currently in post-production. The year I graduated I also set up my website and in the future I hope to add a blog.

Due to my injuries and the demands of juggling work I had to take some extensions for classes and AU has a streamlined process to do so. I appreciated this as it allowed me to really absorb my coursework and not rush through, which paid off not only in receiving marks high enough to graduate with distinction, but also to be given permission to take a fantastic Film Studies course at the Masters level taught by an inspiring and very knowledgeable Fil Fraser.

The online and phone services make it easy for student to access information and assistance without having to book appointments and while working from any location. I found my tutors to be helpful, giving constructive feedback and made themselves available when I had questions.

Combined, these services made it infinitely easier to complete my degree at a pace I had some control over. It is definitely a commitment to take on the demands of any degree, and online coursework is not easier; it simply presents different challenges. Ultimately the people and resources at AU led to a very positive educational experience.

Updated February 25 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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