Buses take us to our destinations. For Manassie Wilson, BComm’23, a bus ride helped her arrive at her destination in a roundabout way. After her summer school exam — she boarded the Calgary Transit route 20 but instead of going south, she accidently headed north and had an experience that fortified her faith and provided a touchstone moment that would help her through the challenges to come.
“The bus 20 went through the University of Calgary campus, and I remember, was it was great,” says Wilson. “I felt this overwhelming feeling of this is your school.”
Wilson set her sights on Haskayne in high school, but she was advised to take a different path by her guidance counselor. Wilson was undeterred and went to summer school to improve her grades. She was accepted to her second choice. In July, the very thing her counsellor said would not happen, happened. She was accepted to her first-choice — Haskayne.
Bumpy road ahead
First semester was exciting — making friends, making connections and looking the part of a university student. She was not dedicating her time to studying, which resulted in a GPA that was, in her words, “basically non-existent.” She booked an appointment with Haskayne’s academic development specialist, who helps undergraduate students achieve their academic and personal success.
Wilson came into the meeting saying, “I know I need help, and I think you're the best person to help me. So, let's try and figure out how I cannot replicate this behaviour in the winter term.” Although Wilson knew changes needed to be made, it was harder to make them. She had another semester with a low GPA and was required to take the Academic Turnaround Program.
More twists in the road
Wilson had a personal tragedy that stopped her in her tracks. School became unimportant. She was required to withdraw. It was a very low December for Wilson.
In January, Wilson received an urgent message that she was receiving another chance. An exception was being made for Wilson to join the Academic Turnaround Program under a new academic development specialist and under a new format.
“As I learned how Manassie’s personal circumstances had impacted her academic standing, it was obvious that we had an opportunity to provide her with both wellness and academic supports she needed,” says Susan Basudde, RSW, academic development specialist at Haskayne.
“It’s not lost on me that, as a business school, we have the power and privilege to make or defer the dreams of those who choose to learn with us, which is why our school has made a commitment to partner with students in holistic and meaningful ways.”
In the updated Academic Turnaround Program, Wilson engaged in 10 weekly seminars and six bi-weekly check-ins with the academic development specialist. The program focuses on providing students with skills in four key areas: planning, time management, group work and interpersonal effectiveness, and academic and personal resilience. Wilson completed the program and was returned to good standing.
Wilson brought her marks up to a 3-point GPA. Connecting to a Haskayne career development specialist, she built her resume, was hired for an internship in 2021 and she applied for — and was awarded — a scholarship. She gained many experiences including working on the Haskayne Report, a student-led business publication providing insights for current business challenges.
“There was a time where I completely forgot I was meant to be here,” says Wilson. “Susan was the person that I needed to remind me that I was meant to be here. And I can’t forget my mom, she was a pivotal pillar for me.”
It was not an easy road, but along the way Wilson not only learned business concepts, but she also learned important lessons about herself.
“I just always went back to that moment in the bus,” says Wilson. “If these challenges are coming my way and I strongly believe that this is my school, I need to do my part in order to make sure I see this through.”
Wilson celebrated her journey at the convocation ceremony on June 2, 2023.