"I decided that if I was going to get my degree, now was the time."
What brought you to UPEI? In other words, why did you choose to study here?
In the winter of 2018, I attended a Bachelor of Integrated Studies information session presented by Inge Dorsey (Bachelor of Integrated Studies program co-ordinator) to PEI public sector employees. I had always regretted not getting a degree. Within the public sector, I need a degree if I want to be considered for certain positions and advance my career. Having just turned 50, I decided that if I was going to get my degree, now was the time. I considered distance learning through other universities but UPEI made the most sense for me. Even though my family lives an hour away from UPEI, it provided the opportunity to take classes both on campus and online. The fact that I already had a son studying at UPEI certainly made it more appealing on a personal level.
What kinds of support have you received during your time as a student from UPEI students, staff, and faculty members?
As a mature student, it was a little intimidating the first time I attended a class on campus. What I quickly realized is that I was not the only mature student in the classroom and as for the younger students, they treated me as a peer. The faculty and staff at UPEI remind me of how fortunate we are to live on a “small island”. The program co-ordinator is always available for any questions or concerns I have and will often just reach out to check in to see how things are going. I’ve always found faculty members easy to contact and quick to respond to questions. UPEI also has a lot of supports available to its students and I have accessed a few, such as the Writing Centre at Robertson Library.
"If you are a mature student and you’ve wanted a degree but have been putting it off, don’t. This program is designed for people like myself who have busy families and are working full-time. I had a great number of fears about going to university. Was I smart enough? Could I commit the time? Could I afford it? They were all justifiable fears but all came with solutions."
What kinds of opportunities have you experienced because you're studying at UPEI, or because of the Island location?
This experience has offered more opportunities than I had ever imagined, the most obvious is the networking aspect. I have had the pleasure of meeting people who I may never have had the opportunity to meet had I not attended UPEI.
On a personal level, it has allowed me to have conversations with my children who are also attending UPEI from a peer perspective versus a parent/child relationship. It is a very unique situation to be going through this experience with my sons. For a mother, there are no words to express how much that means! I’ve even had the opportunity to take a class with one of them.
What's unique about UPEI’s BIS program?
There are a number of aspects that make the BIS program unique. First, it provides flexibility in the area of course selection. With the BIS program you select a concentration, for example business, psychology, sociology, etc. A specific number of credits must come from that area of study. I chose a concentration in business and assumed most of the courses I would take would be business courses; however, the flexibility of the program has allowed me to take classes from other areas of study as well. I’ve taken classes in history, philosophy, political science, religious studies and sociology, all of which have enhanced my experience while working towards achieving my BIS degree. This degree program also considers my prior learning and experience.
What would you tell a prospective student considering UPEI’s BIS program?
If you are a mature student and you’ve wanted a degree but have been putting it off, don’t. This program is designed for people like myself who have busy families and are working full-time. I had a great number of fears about going to university. Was I smart enough? Could I commit the time? Could I afford it? They were all justifiable fears but all came with solutions. I started with one course to get a feel for what was required to be a university student. I successfully completed that one so I took another, then another. My family and my employer were very supportive from the beginning which makes this a much more positive experience. When I enrolled in the program, attaining a degree seemed so far away. But if all goes according to plan, I’ll be graduating in the spring of 2023 with no regrets!
What are your plans after graduation?
This spring, I will have worked as a public service employee with the Province of PEI for 25 years. I started my career in the public sector as a payroll clerk and have held different positions over that time. My current position is Administrative/Financial Officer with the Department of Fisheries and Communities but I am currently on a temporary assignment as a FOIPP (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy) Analyst with the Department of Justice and Public Safety. I plan on finishing out my career as a public servant and having a Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree will enhance my qualifications for positions within the public sector.