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6 • Jan. 4, 2012 • Issue 15 • Volume 145

Student balancing act: Making room for a job, study sessions and a social life

Melissa Kiervin is both a full-time massage therapist and a part-time student. Andrew Meade / The Brunswickan Hilary Paige Smith News Editor Melissa Kiervin, 21, is a part-time student at St. Thomas University studying psychology and gerontology. She has $40,000 in debt and is finding it difficult to receive assistance because she isn’t taking courses full-time. Hilary Paige Smith: Just to get started, where do you go to school and what do you study? Melissa Kiervin: Right now I’m at St. Thomas University and I am taking psychology. HPS: A nd what’s your living situation like, like where do you live and how do you get to school? MK: I just moved to Oromocto and I live in the PMQ (military housing) with my boyfriend and I drive a 2003 Echo that’s falling apart. HPS: Do you have a job right now? What do you do for work? MK: Right now I’m working full time as a massage therapist and then on my days off I go to school. HPS: How do you arrange your work schedule? Like, do you work three days a week and go to school two days a week, that sort of thing? MK: I work every day except Tuesdays and Thursdays. And then I go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. HPS: Do you have any student loans? MK: (laughing) Yeah. I do. I have approximately $40,000 in student loans. HPS: On average, how much would you say you make in a month, as far as your job and any bursaries or any loans that come in? MK: Maybe $1,200 a month. HPS: How many more years do you have until you graduate from

St. Thomas? MK: I want to do a double-major in psychology and gerontology and then get my masters in psychology. So, about eight years. HPS: How much do you think you’re going to owe on your student debt by the end of that time? MK: I couldn’t even tell you. Not at all. I did my first year at St. Thomas and then I did my two years of massage therapy and I’m already at $40,000. HPS: Where did you do massage therapy? MK: I took it at Eastern College. HPS: Tell me a bit more about your lifest yle and sort of what changes you had to make to fit this student lifestyle. MK: When I first graduated from massage therapy and I started working, I was living at Forest Hill Towers (local apartment building), paying $815 a month for rent, nothing included. So when it came to it, it was about $1,000 a month for rent and basic utilities, power and television. That doesn’t include cell phone, gas and food, taking care of two cats, that doesn’t include anything. So, I couldn’t do it anymore. I was broke, living paycheque to paycheque, trying to get good grades and to fit everything into working. So, I moved and as a student I study up until midnight trying to work out my exams and then working full time. By the end of the day I’m exhausted. My psych class is at 8:30 in the morning and then I would just go all day and then some days, like I’m doing now, before exams started, I was working seven days a week and trying to fit in exams and papers. It’s hard, very, very hard. But it’s what

you’ve got to do. Do what you can to survive. HPS: What keeps you going as far as your education? What makes you stay in the student lifestyle even though it is difficult? MK: I have an incredible passion for psychology. The way the mind works is incredible to me. Should I have stopped when I was done massage therapy? Of course I should have. I should have stopped and paid off some of my student debt and called it a day. There’s just so much more to it. St. Thomas itself I couldn’t get away from. The students, the teachers, the education. Every part of St. Thomas is who I am and who I want to be a part of. If that means that I have to be further in debt, then go for it because I need St. Thomas. HPS: Do you wish there was more help from the government and bodies like that as far as students go? Do you think there should be more assistance for students? MK: Oh, definitely. Like, when I contacted the student loan office about repayment assistance, because I told them I’m going back to school. But, because I’m not a full-time student, they can’t help me out. They wouldn’t give me a student loan, so I have to pay for each course that I take on my own and on top of that pay my bills and then pay my repayment, which is about $400 a month. I have to pay that all on my own. I called and they won’t budge because I’m not a full-time student and if education is education, why can’t they help me out just because I’m a part-time student?

this week in brunswickannews UNB problems A Twitter account made to look like an official UNB account, dubbed @UNBProblems surfaced over Christmas break, tweeting about some negative campus issues.The Twitter account was noticed by several current and former students and quickly taken down.

Congrats to students Two UNB chemical engineering students, Ian McKelvey and Arpad Kormendy, were nominated for the “Best Poster Presentation Award” at last week’s Materials Research Society Meeting in Boston. The title of their poster presentation “Tactile Sensing with Piezoresistive Nano-composites.” The nomination was one of 12 shortlisted from 661 presenters from around the world.

Issue 15, Vol 145, The Brunswickan  

Canada's oldest official student publication