A Day In The Life Of A Student Executive

Savannah, President

My day starts at 6:00 am, with a gentle, low-toned alarm. Nobody likes being woken up with a startle! Coffee is a must, and while it is brewing, I will tidy up from the night before. I’ll drink my coffee while getting ready – usually a shower or a bath depending on where I am in my wash routine, then skincare, makeup, and hair. Then it’s off to the office!

I will drop my things in my office and start up my computer, then head downstairs for another cup of coffee. Patty has my order memorized at this point – thanks Patty! I’ll then head upstairs to check through my email and formulate a plan for the day. I carry two planners with me: One is for the entire year and keeps me on task for meetings, deadlines, and to-do’s. The other has a daily spread to prioritize to-do’s along with a bullet journal sheet to do any personal tracking. I would probably implode if I lost either of these; They are well-loved and well-used.

I’ll then go through my day! Each day looks different, with a mix of in person and online classes, meetings, and offsite or after-hours engagements. I also have an office phone and will sometimes receive calls from members of the community that I do my best to answer! I generally average 3 meetings per day plus classes, plus whomever calls or drops by my office – very busy!

My workday ends at 4 pm, lucky me! I’ll head back home to Blackfalds, where I share an apartment with my partner and his daughter. We both love to cook, so generally whoever has gotten home first (or dibs’d it first!) will cook for everyone else. I generally do not answer emails or work on homework outside of my time at school and choose instead to relax with some Animal Crossing or Overwatch.

Bedtime generally occurs around 11:00 pm, but the running joke in my household is that I’m an old lady and usually don’t last past 9. You can often find me on the couch, with a string of drool hanging out of my mouth and my slippers half on half off. I do my skincare, set my alarm, and ready myself to do it all over again in the morning!

 

Brenan, Vice President External

            While most of my days are a variation of a theme and that theme being at the polytechnic all day, Mondays ironically tend to be the most interesting, or just in general busy. I’m one of those weird people that early
mornings don’t bother me too much so I’m normally up pretty early and read the news on my phone for an hour, or so. After this I’m truly up and getting ready. At some point in this process, I get the most essential thing for any morning, coffee. I take mine double double. After that it’s off to the Students’ Association office where I answer a few emails before heading to class – Sociology of Work. After class, it’s a meeting or two, then more emails. SO MANY EMAILS! Somewhere during the hours of 11AM and 2PM I find a time to get something to eat.

Over the last five years I’d have to say that the Far Side has been my go-to spot on campus, and I’ve spent more on chicken fingers than I’d actually care to admit.

At this point, I’m off to my History of Science and Religion class with Dr Wigelsworth. If you have the chance to take a history course, I’d recommend one of his. After that wraps up its back to the Students’ Association to get some last-minute things prepped before the Council Meeting at 5:30PM. During this time I have a small meal, and another coffee, you can never have enough coffee. The Council Meeting normally runs until about 8PM. From there I head home and get some of my homework done. Why does every professor in the social sciences and humanities insist on 800 pages of writing in a semester? I hope to one day find out why. At some point around 10-11PM I crawl into bed, spend an hour, or so, watching videos, looking up memes and decompressing from the day. Get some sleep and do it all over again.

Budgeting 101

By: Oliver Felisilda, RBC On-Campus Assistant Branch Manager & Advisor

 

Budgeting 101: How to Create a Budget

As a student, you likely have experienced many unexpected changes as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis. You’re doing a great job at adapting to the changes and forming new habits. Now, more than ever, is also the time to make sure that you are staying on top of managing your money – making smart financial decisions now will help you prepare for the future.

One of the ways you can do this is to develop the habit of paying attention to what’s happening to your money and where you want it to go. This article aims to help you understand what that means practically through a strategy that you may already be familiar with – budgeting.

All things related to money are very personal and really no two people’s budgets should or would look the same. So, as you are reading this, I recommend that you bring out something that you can use to document your entries. If done right, you’ll find that what you have created can give you a snapshot of your financial situation, how you feel about it, and adjustments you can make to reach your goals.

What is a Budget?

A budget refers to the tool that helps you track and manage your money. While simple, its impact to your peace of mind cannot be overstated.

It is common to find interruptions in one’s finances. Perhaps a new expense arises unexpectedly or maybe your income declines due to conflicting priorities or losing the time or ability to work. People that budget ultimately have less stress about money, because they have a handle on their financial situation and avoid overspending and managing debt. People that budget also have a better grasp on what they actually need vs. what they want, and can more easily prioritize and make smarter decisions about how to spend their money.  Budgeting can really help you make the most of your money and get to your financial goals.  Budgeting helps you to stay focused on what really matters in school – not money.

Step One: Income

A budget begins with listing your income. Whether it’s a one-time deposit (OSAP), a regular occurrence (pay check), or an unexpected surprise (birthday money) – money coming in is what you want to consider your ‘income’.  The monthly totals of these incomes are going to make up the pool of money that you have access to do be able to spend.  On this note, kindly list down all the sources of your income for the month.

So the money that comes into your account doesn’t always stay there – it goes out to pay for things you want, need, and things you think you need but you actually want. To avoid that “empty pockets” feeling, it’s important that you understand your ‘money that goes out’ – or the monthly expenses that you have so you can make sure you have enough income to cover it – and so you also can properly assess and prioritize the expenses that are essential and the ones that are more ‘nice to have’ but not vital.

Step Two: Expenses

So let’s think about what types of expenses that you have. These are the things that you are spending your money on regularly like that quick $2 tap every morning at Tim’s for coffee, or one time bigger ticket items like books you buy at the beginning of every semester, or the rent you pay every month. Take a look and for every item that you spend money on – write the item and the amount the spend column on your budgeting sheet.

Income and expenses are things that you can more or less plan ahead for and expect. Then there are the things that you might want to do with your money, like save for a local getaway, or for an iPhone, or have access to funds that you can spend going out with your friends. You need to be thinking about this stuff so when you start going through the budgeting exercise you’ll be able to see right away what you can afford to actually do.

Step Three: Goals

Take the time now to jot down some things that aren’t accounted for in your expenses or income that you’d like to be able to have money for – record it in the Goals column.

At this point you have a broad list of income, expenses, as well as ‘goals’ for your money. It’s necessary to organize these lists in a way that give you a simple and accurate snapshot of how much money you actually have.  There’s so much fluctuation and change in expenses and income in a school year that if you just take an annual overview you won’t actually have a true sense of how much money you can spend each day to stay in control of your finances and feel confident when managing your money, so that you can achieve your goals.

The amount of money moving in and out of your account isn’t the only thing that matters.  You also need to be aware of when money is moving in or out – so you can budget to have enough in your account to cover the expense. How often money is moving in or out is also important to make sure that the money you have coming in can actually last the entire school year.

You’re going to want to keep track of your budget on a monthly basis so you can plan for both your immediate needs and future needs.

Shortages: What If I Don’t Have Enough Income?

If your balance is negative it means you that income you’ve stated is not enough to cover the expenses you’ve listed. It also means you don’t have any money to contribute to your goals. First thing you’ll want to look at if you’re in this situation is your expenses by finding ways to trim down. You can do this by identifying the things you absolutely need to survive. In addition, it is possible that there are things that are non-essential and should be treated more like goals. For example, I have Starbucks on my goals section of my budget – it’s a treat for me, if I can afford it.  But I can live without it. My rent, however, is an essential expense.  I wouldn’t be able to survive if I didn’t pay for the roof over my head.  Furthermore, reducing the costs of your expenses can go a long way.  So you can try to find ways to shop smarter or save money.

On the flip side, the other thing you can try to do is find ways to get more money. But applying for scholarships, getting a job, or finding ways for your money to make you money are some things you can explore.  RBC has some resources for jobs and scholarships, your campus will have resources as well. The government has relief programs to help support students.   For some of you, asking your parents may be an option. For others, sitting down with a financial advisor might be helpful in finding other solutions that will help your financial situation.

Budgeting Tips

While everyone’s budget is different, the following tips are useful to everyone.

Primarily, budgets are often more effective with an emergency fund as a part of your goals. Allocating about 1% of your income into this fund that can be used for unplanned expenses as they come up can give you more peace of mind. Secondly, always having some type of savings goal gets you into the habit of setting something up and achieving it while putting your funds aside. Furthermore, if your budget balance is 0, it means you aren’t setting yourself up to either plan ahead or save for a goal. So, always be mindful of how your lifestyle is causing a surplus or a shortage.

It is also worth noting that making a budget doesn’t guarantee that you’ll stick to it. Life happens, sometimes you might go over budget or maybe you’ll find that you’re just tapping too much and in adversely increasing your expenses.  If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t staying in your budget – don’t just give up.  Every day is a new opportunity to course correct.

One of the ways you can ensure consistency is by ensuring that the budgeting tool that you use is fit for you. There are many apps, tools, and budgeting calculators online that can give you an updated budget in real time.

In addition, alerts are a great way to get proactive and reactive information about your bank account in real time.  You can set up alerts through online or mobile banking to get a text every time you tap, to reminder you about an upcoming bill, to see your balance at the end of every day, or to see your balance if it dips a little too low.

If you’re an RBC customer you get access to something called NOMI insights in mobile banking. This is our artificial intelligence tool that analyzes your account activity to give you insights about where your money is going and smarter ways to manage it.

You can also ask for help from your advisor at your financial institution. Your advisor can offer support to make sure you are using the right account, plan for any upcoming changes to your budget or adjust for unplanned changes, minimize unnecessary fees, and ultimately do what they can to keep you on track to achieving your goals.

For any additional questions or concerns about this article, please let us know! We are happy to help you with your journey so please reach out to Oliver or Bruno at the RDC on campus location near the forum or via email at [email protected] or [email protected].

 

Hey! I’m Your New VPX!

By: Brenen Fuiten

 

I guess the best place to start is just saying that I’m the elder millennial on the Students’ Association Executive team, you know with having been born in the 80’s. I still have some of my transformer’s toys to prove this as well.
I was born in a small town in Saskatchewan, and I moved to Red Deer at a pretty young age – when I was 1.5 – 2 years old. Okay I didn’t move; I was just brought along for the ride. Apart from a brief stint in Calgary, during my early twenties, Red Deer has always been my home. In regards to family, I’m the oldest of five, with two brothers and two sisters. I’m also in the weird position of having had three dads – LONG STORY. I met my fiancé five years ago online but not on a dating app, but rather through a blog I had been running at the time. Two years ago, I proposed at the Calgary Airport with a ring pop (don’t worry, I had a real ring). She always thought it would be funny if that happened, so I took the opportunity to do so! I have an interesting and weird love for a lot of the music that came out in the late 90’s/early 00’s, remember Ska? Yeah, we dont need to talk about that one too much. I spent most of my time listening to bands like, Blink-182, The Deftones, Brand New, Nirvana, Chevelle, and ALEXISONFIRE which even inspired a group of my friends and I to started a punk band in high school – as one would expect we didn’t go far!

When it comes to my schooling this has been a journey. I graduated from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive HS in 2006. So, my high school experience was nothing but construction. I then went and attended RDC in the winter of 2007 as an Open Studies student. This didn’t go so well, mostly because I wasn’t committed to the idea of post-secondary at the time. After this I ended up in construction, I guess what happened at Lindsay Thurber had ultimately intrigued me. After working a few years as a “tin basher,” one of the guys that installs the heating in the building, I had gotten discouraged with one, always being cold, and two not having access to the trade program at RDC, so I left construction. Side note: this trade is still not available at RDP, hopefully that changes! After that I got into computers and technology, and I can already guess what you’re thinking, RDP doesn’t have a computer science program. While you are all right in that matter, I went hey you know what computers have the internet and the internet can teach you things. I was doing online classes back in 2010-2011 before it was the norm and before it was cool (okay they sucked then, and they suck now). As a result of this I was able to get a few certificates from CompTIA: A+; Network + and Security +, which allowed me to work in IT for a few years as a help desk support technician and onsite systems installer. Yes, the first thing we ask 90% of the time is have you tried turning it off and then on. After a company downsizing and hitting a wall educationally trying to do it all online, I decided it was time for me to go back to school in-person and give it an honest try.

The fall of 2017 was my first year back in post-secondary, as a university degree transfer student majoring in chemistry. Boy, oh boy, did that first-year rock me hard. Between having to drop out of Chem 212 and getting just passable grades in my other science courses, I ended up taking psychology as a GPA booster.

Well, that may have been the best decision I had made academically. It gave me a new direction that I was interested in, and the material clicked, but more importantly gave me my confidence back!

During my second year I started to become more involved in giving other students a platform to have themselves be heard, in my second year by becoming a member of the Agora Undergraduate Conference and Journal, in addition to being a peer tutor (before the SA had Nimbus!). This then led to me getting noticed by other student leaders who recommended that I join the Students’ Association Council – so I did! Then the opportunity to run for an Executive position became available and again I decided to challenge myself and HERE I AM!

I look forward to the challenges that this role will entail and getting a chance to hopefully leave a legacy for the students that come afterwards!

HONOURING THE CHILDREN AND ADVANCING TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

Indigenous Student Services in collaboration with the Social Work Diploma Program and the Student’s Association of Red Deer Polytechnic are inviting students, faculty, staff and community members to contribute to an upcoming event that will be bringing awareness to the residential school experience and the unmarked graves of Indigenous children that are being found. We are also encouraging that this be an opportunity to share, educate and gather contributions from family and friends where appropriate.

A feather template (attached) can be used for your contribution and is available for pick up and drop off in the Gathering Place on campus at RDP (next to the main security desk) throughout the next 2 weeks with a suggested deadline of Friday, November 12th by 5pm.

Community members can connect with Talitha to have feather templates dropped off and for pick-up arrangements if required.

Feathers can also be completed in the Gathering Space. In creating a feather, we ask that it is done in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation and with a positive intention towards a transformative and meaningful relationship with Indigenous peoples’, but also in honour and memory for the Indigenous children who did not survive their residential school experience.                

This event is also timely in the fact that the Red Deer Industrial School grounds are currently being searched for unmarked graves and the bodies of children that have yet to be found. The results from this search are anticipated in the next few weeks.

Please create in a way that speaks to yourself and your intention, some ideas include: Using the feather template to draw, colour, leave a message, create a collage, paint and so forth. Feel free to use all the space that is available on the page. Consider the following when creating your feather:

  • What is your message to the children whose lives were lost? Their families and communities? How might you portray this in words or art.
  • What needs to be done on the path to Truth and Reconciliation?

Other pieces are acceptable on other materials as long as they are appropriate to being burned in a fire. Pieces are being collected to be displayed on November 15 in the Forum from 10 am to 2 pm. The feathers with all of their pictures, words and positive intentions will then be burned in a Fire of Intention with an Indigenous elder, to essentially release these individual and collective intentions, that will take place at some point in the coming weeks. The Fire of Intention will take place at 1 pm on Friday, November 19 in the Forum Courtyard.

For more information on this timely topic please consider watching the short video Searching for the Unmarked Graves of Indigenous Children which can be accessed HERE

Questions? Please contact Talitha Klym, Indigenous Student Services Generalist at [email protected] or 403-357-3672

How to Incorporate Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into Your Daily Life

By: Shannon Humphrey

 

What is EDI?

Everywhere we go we are hearing more and more about EDI initiatives, committees, and events but what is EDI?

EDI stands for EQUITY, DIVERSITY, and INCLUSION. Ultimately, equity is the goal, diversity is the fact, and inclusion is the action. Equity comes first in the acronym because it is the guiding principle and end goal.

Where do I start?

Start with you! It is common to think an equitable, diverse, and inclusive models of behavior has to do with others but EDI has quite a lot to do with ourselves. Before you can actively practice and integrate EDI in everyday life, you first must understand who you are and how you exist in the world. It is important that we start with ourselves.

For some this understanding of self might seem like an entirely overwhelming concept that is difficult to navigate. Consider how you would label yourself on the diagram below as a starting point.

The more comprehensive your understanding of self, the closer you get to your most authentic self.  It is much easier to practice EDI when you start from a place where you are unapologetically comfortable as your most authentic self. Only once you understand how you exist in the world can you truly understand how others exist in the world. That is the most difficult part of practicing EDI in everyday life. EDI is so much more than simply coming up with and implementing a model of behaviour, it is also a journey of self discovery that takes us in unexpected directions and down paths we never thought possible.

This journey of self-discovery and understanding is called our intersectional identity. Intersectionality is an analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person’s social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. The term was conceptualized and coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in a paper in 1989 and is illustrated by the diagram below.

 

Ok, I know myself. Now what?

The next step is seeking to understand. Once you have figured out how you exist in the world, now it is time to consider how those around you and others exist in the world. At this stage you must practice hearing, seeing, and validating others. However, before you can do this you must understand what each element of EDI means individually.

Look no further, here are some definitions:

Equity – The fair and respectful treatment of all humans recognizing an obligation to provide safe spaces and barrier free environments. Equity involves the reduction of disparities and ensures that everyone has barrier free access to opportunity, resources, and supports that fit their needs. Equity goes beyond simply acknowledging the existence of inequalities and recognizes that those inequalities are deeply rooted in historical and contemporary injustices. Equity accounts for the fact that not everyone is made equal and accounts for differences. For those of you who are visual learners, here is a picture that explains equity.

Diversity – Acknowledges the existence differences between individuals. The goal of diversity must be to recognize, value, and celebrate those differences rather than trying to eliminate them.

Inclusion – A set of measures that can be integrated into everyday life that ensure all people feel safe, welcome, and valued as their most authentic self. Inclusion is about creating safe spaces for diversity to thrive. In other words, the means of recognizing, valuing, and celebrating difference.

EDI – Most simply put, EDI is a journey of growth toward humanity. It aims to challenge and destigmatize stereotypes and unconscious biases to ultimately eradicate prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization to make the world a better and more equitable place for all. Equity is the goal, diversity is the is the fact, and inclusion is the action.

See, Hear, Validate

How can you practice EDI in your daily life? My guess is that you already are in one way or another.

Since the goal is to seek to understand, this can be as simple as a conversation. If you are sharing your experiences with others and explaining how you exist in the world while listening and learning about how they exist in the world, you are already seeking to understand and thus practicing EDI. In the grand scheme of things, a conversation should be relatively simple and come naturally. Just remember this stage is all about hearing, seeing, and validating others. However, it is also about being visible to be seen, using your voice to be heard, and validating your own identity and feelings. Yes, psychology students, I am referring to achieving self actualization on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is an excellent example of where critical thought through an EDI lens comes into play to shed light on some local history that indicates there is more to the story. Did you know that Maslow spent six weeks living at Siksika, a Blackfoot Reserve in Alberta in the summer of 1938? His time there conceivably challenged his early hypotheses and shaped his theories that influenced the framework for the hierarchy of needs. While Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs focuses on the individual, the Blackfoot way of life offers an alternative framework that focuses on the community. Self-Actualization as a word or phrase does not exist in the Siksika language, but The Blackfoot word niita’pitapi, meaning “someone who is completely developed, or who has arrived,” is used in reference to a community who leaves no one behind and is engrained in the cultural teachings of the Siksika Nation. Moral of the story? Part of practicing EDI in your everyday life is applying critical thought to history and the narratives that are given to us from only one perspective. What about the other sides or versions of the story?

As students we have options that we can take in our course load. One of the best ways to practice EDI in your every day life is to learn about it. Take courses that interest you! Take courses that provide content and context on the things you want to learn more about. Use your time here to your advantage and learn about whatever you want to learn about. That is what your options are for. This is a great way to learn more about intersectional aspects of identity and the things that influence EDI. Your instructors are a great resource as are your librarians, your student services, and of course your SA.

The Simple Things

Are you still feeling overwhelmed and like there is a lot to learn? No problem! This is the part where you are required to practice a little bit of self compassion and self empathy. Give yourself a break and allow room for error. We don’t get good at things overnight, we must practice, grow, and continue learning. The point of practice is to make room for troubleshooting and strive for improvement. Always remember that it is the fact that you are trying that really matters. If you mess it up, that is okay, no one is expecting perfection. While it is important to own it when we do mess up, it is equally as important to learn from it and ultimately move forward a more aware and a better more informed version of yourself. Your efforts are appreciated, valued, and important!

Vice President External Candidate Profile

We have officially entered Election Campaign Week here at Red Deer Polytechnic and we have one candidate running uncontested for the position of Vice President External.  Voting for the Students’ Association By-Election opens at 9am on Tuesday, October 26 and closes at 4pm on Thursday, October 28.

Brenan Fuiten

I would like to acknowledge that the Students Association operates on Treaty 7, Treaty 6, and Métis ancestral lands, which are home to many Indigenous peoples. I have been a part of the RDP community for a number of years, and have had four different majors during that time, proving that you don’t need to have a clear and defined path as soon as you enter post-secondary schooling. I’m in my 4th year of my BA Psychology program through the University of Calgary. One of the main advantages that I can offer to students is that by being a long term student at RDP I have a great understanding of what resources, opportunities, and programs are available to student members, in addition to the struggles that they face as part of their education. This means that a large part of what I will be doing at the Students Association will be to help advocate for student’s mental health resources and letting students know that there are various learning supports available to them. While making sure to advocate for the Polytechnic students’ voice in the province and nationally. Over the past few years you might have found me helping students in the library as a peer tutor at the Writing Skills Centre, visiting classrooms and helping organize the Agora Undergraduate Conference, editing papers for the Agora Journal, and being the student voice on the School Council. If you see me on campus I’m more than willing to stop and chat, especially if it ends up being an issue that affects your education. 

Reflecting On My Childhood

By: Savannah Snow

Trigger warning: The following story contains mentions of suicide, drug use, self harm, and physical abuse.

A common reaction I get when I divulge my childhood circumstances is, “Wow, I never would’ve expected that from you.” It always puzzles me, because as kids, we have no control over the circumstances we are in. We make the best of the situation and hope we make it out okay. At some point, we have a choice. We can allow ourselves to be the victim of circumstance, or we can rise above our past and create the future that we deserve. I’d like to include a trigger warning – the following story contains mentions of suicide, drug use, self harm, and physical abuse.

I was born here in Red Deer at the local hospital. My mother was very young – only 20 years old. My mother worked very hard – at this point in her life she had three different part-time jobs and was attempting to complete her pre-law courses at then-RDC. My arrival forced her to drop out. Shortly after, she became addicted to meth and cocaine. Things at home began to spiral.

My earliest memories are of parties, my mother putting on her makeup, and the big tall boots she used to love to wear. My mother and I were very close. We spent all of our time together; She had picked up a job as an escort and was happy with it because she got
to spend more time at home. We shared a room and even slept in the same bed. She told me I always had an uncanny ability to tell when she was high. I don’t remember this, but I would almost always call her out on it. I caused her a lot of guilt by doing so

Disaster finally struck. She was withdrawing from cocaine and didn’t realize that severe depression and even suicidal thoughts were side effects. In her mind, she was an awful mother, and I would be best off in the hands of the government. That night is one of my most vivid memories. I found her in the bathroom – stark naked, unresponsive and several bottles of pills and a bottle of vodka on the floor with her. I knew something was horribly wrong. I went to tell her roommate, but he was also high and didn’t want to call the authorities.

I called the ambulance, my grandma, and one of my aunts. My mother survived because I wouldn’t take no for an answer. Prior to this, we had CPS knock on our door a couple of times. This was the nail in the coffin; I was sent to live with my first foster family. It’s funny, the social worker always buys you a hash brown from McDonald’s when they’re taking you to a different home. I cycled through a few in my time in foster care, and it was always hash browns and always McDonalds. Must be written into their budget.

I am so grateful for my first foster family. I was their first foster child. They lived on a farm out by Trochu, lots of cows, cats, and dogs. They introduced me to routine, religion, and manners. No matter how many families I cycled through, they were always willing to take me back.

They showed me the unconditional love I needed to be okay later on in life.

When I was five, my younger brother was born. He was sent to a different foster home. At this point, I still had visitation with my mom. A social worker would pick us up and we’d go to a house and visit for a few hours. After about a year, I got moved in with my little brother. This family was incredibly abusive to me but wanted to adopt my little brother and separate us.

For my seventh birthday, my grandma picked me up and took me to Sylvan Lake to spend time with the family. I returned to my foster home with my gifts. My foster mom sat me down at the table and grilled me with questions about what was said during the day. When I didn’t give her an answer she liked, she would take a pair of scissors and cut up one of my presents. I received a teddy bear with angel wings from my grandma. Watching that woman cut the wings off that bear will haunt me forever. Shortly after this, she called my grandma to inform her that she was hitting me often, and there was nothing my grandma could do about it. Luckily, there was a happy ending to this particular story – my social worker rescued my brother and I from the home, terminated their foster license, and banned them from adopting any children from the welfare system. I returned to my original foster home with my little brother in tow.

Prior to this point, the whole goal was for my mother to get cleaned up and for my brother and I to live with her again. This never happened. She was incarcerated for smuggling drugs and we were officially up for adoption. There are these events in Alberta called foster fairs. It’s basically a cattle show but with kids. They dress up all of these foster kids and tag them with a number and set up a fun event for prospective parents to come watch the children play. I always hated these, and luckily my foster parents did too. My brother and I were also on an episode of Wednesday’s Child in hopes to get us adopted.

A family finally came along – a young couple with a son that was between my brother’s and I’s age. They came to the farm and spent lots of time with us. I adored them, and an end was finally in sight. Just a few weeks before the adoption was to be finalized, they decided they couldn’t afford to adopt both of us – a dealbreaker. It was back to square one and I had never felt more betrayed in my life.

A second family came along. The parents were significantly older, and already had two teenaged kids. From my first meeting with them I knew I didn’t like them. There was something… off. Even as an adult I can’t put that feeling into words. I told my adoption psychologist, my social worker, my foster parents –  no one cared. The system did its job. My brother and I were adopted. I was 8 at this point, December of 2005.

Things were okay for the first couple months. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I recoiled at their affection, didn’t wish to speak to them or spend time with them. At this point, I developed kleptomania to cope with the heavy trauma I had experienced. I swiped anything I could get my hands on, even if it didn’t make sense for it to be in my possession. My adoptive mother’s reaction to my thefts grew progressively more explosive, eventually developing into a physically abusive relationship.

She ostracized me from the rest of the family. I wasn’t allowed to eat meals with the family. I was fed after they had eaten with whatever was left at a separate table. If there was nothing I would get a sandwich. They barricaded me into my room with a bookshelf, a table top, a motion sensor, and a camera. I wasn’t allowed water or the bathroom unless I asked permission. I was subject to invasive pat-downs before and after school. When I was 11, my adopted mom attacked me one morning before school, and scratched my stomach so badly that I bled through my shirt. My friends noticed and dragged me down to the counsellor’s office. Social services were called and they sent a social worker to the house. She barely spoke to me and didn’t stay longer than an hour. I finally knew for sure that I was on my own.

My adopted mom took me to a psychiatrist when I was 13 to get me on medication. I was incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar and medicated for it. I actually have dysthymia (consistent cyclical depression) and still won’t go anywhere near medication. I went through several medications and combinations and two hospitalizations. The second was because the psychiatrist had put me on lithium at 14 years old and it caused me to auditory hallucinate.

When I was in the second time, I met a nurse named Regina. Prior to my hospitalization, I had sat my adopted parents down and asked them to contact the Alberta Government. I wanted to be put back in foster care. Anything would’ve been better than my current situation. Regina put my head back on straight when I told her: “That’s a damn fool thing to do. Right now, you got a roof over your head, food on your table, and a good school to go to. Take advantage of what you’ve got and do what you have to do to live.” I woke up that day. I realized she was right – I had to do what I had to do to survive this. I deserved to survive it.

My kleptomania had long subsided. My medication made me feel flat and colourless. I was finally the child they wanted. This whole time, I made great grades, I danced at the local dance company and often landed solos, I played piano and always pulled platinum at music festivals, and I was progressing steadily through the ranks of my swim league. My adopted parents loved to brag about me to friends and family – but god forbid they ever praise me to my face. I was a trophy kid. I still harbour a lot of resentment for that. I find it difficult to banish that critical little voice they instilled in me, even now.

The morning of my 18th birthday, I left. Perhaps it might be perceived that I was kicked out – they did indeed sit me down and inform me that I wouldn’t have a place in their home once I was 18. However, I didn’t want to be there if I didn’t have to be. I returned the following Christmas with gifts for the family; They wouldn’t let me inside and forced me to talk to my little brother on the front step. I haven’t spoken to them since. My brother is 19 now and though I did my best to keep in contact with him, he won’t talk to me now. I hope someday I get to explain myself and apologize for leaving him. Our adopted parents were very good to him, didn’t abuse him the way they did me, and are paying for his schooling. I’m glad they were there to take care of him.

It’s taken a lot of time and therapy to get to a place where I’m not vibrating with resentment every time I think of the lot I drew in life. Circumstances are just that. You cannot stress over that which you cannot control – it’s unproductive. I always like to say I live my life out of spite. I am successful out of spite. I am happy out of spite. I am motivated out of spite. I know in my heart it’s not really spite any more. I used to want to prove my adoptive parents wrong – I CAN be something in life! Now I realize I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Being happy with myself is finally enough. I AM successful, I AM happy, I AM motivated.

I know that lifting yourself out of a bad situation can be daunting. I believe in you: You can do it! Your biggest enemy will always be yourself if you let it be that way. You can be happy, no matter what awful cards life has dealt you. This is the true beauty of being a young adult – realizing your whole life is ahead of you and the steering wheel is in your hands. Take it. Your future self absolutely deserves it.

Why Joining a Student Group is Life Changing

By: Jessica Walker

Think back to your first day at Red Deer Polytechnic, how did you feel? I would venture to say that you felt intimidated, alone, and were wondering how you would make friends. We’ve all been there. Getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people is so daunting.

Naturally, you will meet people in your program but what if you want to meet outside the classroom? What if you don’t have much in common with the people in your program aside from being in the same program?

What if I told you I have the secret to meet students outside your program, would you believe me?

Well, you better believe me because I have the secret! Join a student group – hold the applause! Yep, it’s that simple. At Red Deer Polytechnic, we have a wide variety of student groups on campus, and they vary from interest based to program-based groups. Some groups with as little as 10 members and some with upward of 200. There really is something for everybody and if you don’t find a group that fits your interests, consider founding one!

I’m sure you’re wondering how this could be life changing…well it’s because you are joining a group with other students who have similar interests and values as you. You will spend an abundance of time with these individuals and will create lifelong bonds. You and these other students will share a unique experience, and no one can take that away from you. Aside from friendships, being a member or Executive of a student group will help develop your leadership skills, expand your resume, and provide many networking opportunities. As far as I can tell, there are no negative aspects of joining a student group!!

To learn more about the student groups on campus or how to establish one, check out our website! If you have questions about groups or need a little guidance, contact me – Jessica – at [email protected] or 403-356-4972.

See you around!

10 Things Every Student Should Know

By: Shannon Humphrey

 

As a student who has been here for longer than the average bear, I feel I have a certain responsibility to share some tips and tricks that I wish someone would have shared with me to make my time here easier.

  1. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be

Now I know this is our favorite task and struggling alone to navigate a system we aren’t yet familiar with seems like the “normal” thing to do but stop that right now! It doesn’t have to be this hard. One of the best things you can do for yourself to ensure the best possible educational experience is to know your resources and then actually use them. Which brings me to my next point.

  1. You are not alone

There are a ton of resources both on and off campus to help support you throughout your time here. Make sure you know the available resources and use them to their fullest extent. Had I discovered these resources and supports earlier in my academic journey, my time here would have been a lot easier, and come to think of it, likely a lot shorter as well. For me the resources I wish I would have discovered earlier are Counselling Services, Accessibility Services, and my Student Health and Dental benefits. Here are some of the resources that are valuable resources you should be utilizing:

 

·       Counselling

·       My Wellness

·       Accessibility Services

·       Student Connect Centre

·       Academic Advising

·       Learning Strategies

·       Peer Tutoring

 

 

·       Student Food Bank

·       Math Centre

·       Writing Centre

·       Academic Upgrading Tutor Centre

·       Red Deer Polytechnic Website

·       Students’ Association Website

·       LibGuides

 

 

  1. You will always have options

“No education is bad education, and no time spent learning is wasted”

Someone once said to me, “no education is bad education, and no time spent learning is wasted.” This is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received. This statement could not be more accurate. Academic credits not only transfer internally across programs but also externally across schools. In my academic journey, I spent 1 year at University of Lethbridge (U of L), and then 7 years at Red Deer College. Every single class I have ever taken still appears on my transcript and those classes I took at U of L, despite not finishing my program, fulfill several class requirements in my business degree and justice studies diploma. Many of my classes also act as pre-requisites allowing me to take higher level classes that are more specified and that I find much more engaging. While some of those classes may not fill any program requirements currently, they did in the past and remain of my transcript. These junior level credits have opened all sorts of doors to more interesting senior levels credits. So, even if you get into your program and decide that it’s not for you, it doesn’t mean you need to drop out of school. You will always have options no matter where life takes you. You can find out more information about your credits on your Loop account and checking your Grad Tracker, or by visiting Transfer Alberta.

  1. Academic Planning is important!

It is in your best interest to understand how to academic plan. This will ultimately allow you more autonomy in the long run and enable you to choose your own adventure! Academic planning can be complicated and confusing at first, but it’s worth it. Here are a few things you need to know:

  • Know where to find your academic advisor. They will be your greatest ally when it comes to academic planning. They can help you understand the academic planning process and what courses you need to take to fulfill your program requirements.
  • Know where to find a program Planning Guide and your Grad Tracker. This helps you track what you have completed, what you still need to complete, and outlines your options. It gives you a real time overview of your progress and help guide you.
  • Know what pre-requisites and anti-requisites are:
    • Pre-requisites are courses required to be completed before you are eligible to take another course. For example, you must take PSYC 260 before taking any other PSYC courses.
    • Anti-requisites are courses that are the same in the nature and fulfill the same requirements. More simply put, it courses are anti-requisites then it is useless to take them both because the content will be similar and only one will count toward your program. Make sure you are in the correct one for your program. In some cases, one may be a “higher level” course to fulfill a university transfer requirement, while the other will not fulfill the university transfer requirement.
  • Know the difference between junior and senior level courses:
    • In general, junior level courses are intro level courses and often act a pre-requisite to something else. Usually, these courses are taken in your first few years but can be taken at any time throughout your academic journey. These courses are usually your 100-200 level courses (“college”) or 1000-2000 (“university”) level courses. These often transfer from 100 to 1000 and 200 to 2000 level courses when transferring from a college to a university or vice versa.
  • Take courses that actually interest you. Don’t take courses just because they fit into your schedule. You will always be more successful in a course if you find the content interesting. Set yourself up for success. Yes, sometimes this means hitting refresh at midnight until the new courses come available for registration. I promise it’s worth it.
  • Play to your strengths. Your academic journey is not limited to just your program.

While I was doing my Justice Studies Diploma, I took a KNSS course that helped me get my NCCP Coaching Certification. This KNSS class both filled an open option in my diploma and served as a means of getting a coaching certification that I otherwise would have had to pay out of pocket for and would have had to take anyway in my role as a head coach. Use your time here to your advantage and pursue those extra little things that will help you out in your personal life and future endeavours whether they are career related or not.

Knowing your learning style will help you learn faster and retain what you learn. You can discover your learning style by taking either of these quizzes:

https://www.how-to-study.com/learning-style-assessment/quiz-item.asphttp://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles.shtml

Once you have taken a few courses, identify the instructors that work for your learning style and those that do not. Knowing how you learn and what is effective in helping you retain knowledge will set you up for success.

  • Never take an F – the better option is to WD.
    • WD stands for withdraw. Withdrawals do not impact your GPA and show up on your transcript as WD.
    • Students withdraw from a course after the last day to add or drop a course and before or on the last day of scheduled classes, as indicated in the Academic Schedule. A grade of WD is assigned to the course on the student’s transcript.
    • The last day to withdraw from courses is on the last day of scheduled classes as indicated in the Academic Schedule or in the course outline for courses with alternative academic terms.
    • Late Drop or Withdrawal: Students who miss the deadline to drop or withdraw from courses as a result of illness, domestic affliction, religious practices, or other compelling reasons may request the Registrar to consider approval of a late drop or withdrawal.
  • Retaking courses does not always boost your GPA so make sure you speak with your advisor before doing so.

5. Accessibility Services are available to EVERYONE!

Accessibility Services advocates for an accessible learning environment for all students. This includes working with an Accessibility Coordinator, Learning Strategist, and/or Technology Strategist. Red Deer Polytechnic has a legal obligation to ensure that students with documented disabilities have equal access to post-secondary education through accommodations. Accommodations and resources are determined on an individual basis and are designed to provide students with equal access to the educational process by reducing barriers.

Prospective and current students with documented disabilities affecting mobility, learning, or physical or mental health can register to access resources and accommodations needed to achieve their learning outcomes. Examples of eligible disabilities include:

 

·       Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

·       Autism Spectrum Disorders

·       Chronic Health Condition

·       Deaf/Hard of Hearing

·       Learning disabilities

 

·       Mental Health disabilities

·       Neurological conditions

·       Physical disabilities

·       Visually impaired

·       A disability can be permanent or temporary, due to accident or illness.

 

 

  1. Taking notes is an art.

Personally, I know that bringing a device to class is distracting so I use paper and pens. I find that using different colour pens helps me. Follow these links to assist with your note taking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAhRf3U50lM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUndnWBR0A0

  1. There are no weird questions, just weird people.

Dare to be different and ask weird questions. If you have a question, chances are so does everyone else. Ask those questions and be engaged in class. It also helps to sit front and centre. If you sit at the front of the classroom, it is much harder to get distracted by things that are not class related. It is also easier to engage in the classroom discussion and hold yourself accountable for asking questions and contributing to the conversation.

  1. As a student, you have student rights and responsibilities.

You should know what they are. In a later blog, we will take a deep dive into this. Your rights and responsibilities can be found here: https://rdc.ab.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/Student%20Rights%20and%20Responsibilities%20Policy_2016.pdf

  1. This is a safe space to be your most authentic self.

Your time as a student will be chalked full of personal growth and experiences. It is important to remember that you will not be the same person you are now when you leave. During your time here you have a right to feel not only safe but celebrated and free to be your most authentic self.

  1. Your voice matters.

We are here for you. As your elected representatives, it is our job to be the voice of the students. We encourage you to come share your experiences with us, good or bad. We encourage you to get involved in things like student groups, Student Council, Academic Council, School Council, or one of the many committees that exist. We need strong student voices at every level of decision making throughout the institution and student leadership to advocate for what matters to us most.

Why Be An Executive

By: Brittany Lausen

 

The Students’ Association of Red Deer Polytechnic is having a By-election for the position of Vice President External, as well as 8 spots on Council and I wanted to tell you from the perspective of a former student leader why the heck it is totally worth it to join the Students’ Association as Council or as an Executive!

I started my journey as a Councillor on the Students’ Association’s Summer Council in 2017. During my time as a Councillor, I was lucky enough to volunteer at a variety of different events that I was passionate about such as mental health, sexual violence, student experience, and Green Campus – just to name a few. I loved getting to have a voice around the Council table and share my opinion on things that were affecting me and my fellow students. This sparked my passion for student leadership and wanting to make post-secondary the best it can be for students. So, I ran for the role as Vice President Community & Wellness (a position no longer available) 2018/2019 and from there I went on to serve 2-terms as President for the Association from 2019-2021.

I will never be able to measure the positive impact student leadership has had on my life. During my time, I had the opportunity to network and build relationships with Senior Administration, Deans, department Directors, instructors, and staff in the College community. I was able to network with government, elected officials, entrepreneurs, and other community leaders. I gained experience with operations management, governance, advocacy, non-profit organizations, million-dollar budgets, public speaking, teamwork, and the most obvious skill – leadership. I was given professional development opportunities as I attended conferences related to sexual violence and governance. I received Mental Health First Aid and First Responder to Sexual Violence Training. I went to Edmonton many times with other student leaders and advocated on behalf of 110,000 Alberta Post-Secondary Students to government. I shared my perspective with the Alberta 2030 Review – a review of the entire Alberta Post-Secondary System that will have impacts for years to come. I provided student feedback on curriculum for RDP’s new degrees when they were in their development. The number of cool things I got to do while I was on Council and an Executive for the Students’ Association could go on for miles, so I’ll stop here. Being a Student Leader is one of the coolest things I have ever done, and I hope you’ll consider it too.

So, to conclude – why be an exec?

Because it can not only change your life but give you the opportunity to change others’ lives without them even knowing.