A flexible schedule can be the most important thing for a student to find success in their education. This was the case when Ateshia York completed her Bachelor of Health Science degree through Thompson Rivers University Open Learning (TRU-OL), propelling her into medical school.
York started off her post-secondary education with a diploma from the West Coast College of Massage Therapy (WCCMT). Her dream was to continue education in the medical field later, but wasn’t sure in what capacity.
After working as a registered massage therapist (RMT) for three years in Vancouver, York decided she was ready to continue her education and knew that even from a distance, TRU-OL was the best choice.
“I wasn’t living in Kamloops at the time, but TRU was an attractive option because I was able to take courses elsewhere and online and have them easily transfer to TRU,” said York, who was 28 when she entered the program.
In Vancouver, York took classes and labs at the BC Institute of Technology and Langara College, along with a few online options.
By the time she started her first class in the BHSc, she had a baby boy on the way.
Compounding her schedule was the fact she was still working as an RMT and teaching clinical classes on occasion.
“I’m the kind of person that gets bored easily, so if I’m not constantly challenged, I’ll be looking for the next thing to do,” said York. “I got used to [being very busy] eventually and enjoy it for the most part, but it was definitely tiring at times.”
York’s goal was to attend the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine. After three years with TRU-OL, she sent in her first application while finishing her degree to the very competitive program. The application, however, was dismissed on a technicality.
Turns out, her diploma from WCCMT was viewed as a one block credit by UBC, so she was only evaluated on the 87 credits she completed through TRU-OL at the time of her application, and she was required to have 90 credits to apply before graduation. So, York worked with program advisors in Open Learning and came up with a plan for 12 more credits to bolster her application.
That meant one more year of education and by this time, York was expecting her third son.
“It was frustrating to be turned down on a technicality like that and to have to wait another year before reapplying to medical school,” said York.
One year later, York graduated her program with a 4.02 GPA and was accepted into UBC.
“Ateshia always sticks in my head for being one of the more impressive students I’ve worked with. To get basically straight As while being a mom and working is pretty impressive,” said Kris Webb, a TRU-OL program advisor.
Since graduating from TRU in 2013, York has been working towards her Medical Doctor degree through UBC’s Vancouver Fraser Medical program. She is currently working through her final year, and working with patients completing medical electives in emergency medicine, and working with patients that suffer with injuries ranging from minor injuries to severe trauma in different hospitals a couple weeks at a time.
Now married and the proud mother of four kids, York is thankful for the flexibility of the OL program, as it allowed her to pursue her passion while building a family.
“I came into the program not 100 percent sure what direction I was going to go with my career. I ended up getting a lot of support with choosing my courses and I was able to design a flexible schedule that allowed me to get all the prerequisites I needed,” said York. “That was really important to me.”