Julie Sykes was working in communications with the federal government in Ottawa and was enrolled in the communications program at the University of Ottawa, but she was starting to feel the strain.

“It can be difficult or impossible to balance university with a career that is already in progress,” she explained.

Julie was getting up at 4 am for her job and finishing class at 10 pm.

“I was determined to finish my degree, but I was unwilling to put my career on hold to make it happen,” she said.

Julie wanted to complete a Bachelor of Arts program because she found that many jobs in the communications field require a degree.

“I started looking for alternatives and I came across University Canada West,” she said. “The concept of online learning really appealed to me. Not only would I be able to study at my own convenience, but the university also offered four semesters per year instead of the standard two, which meant that I would be able to complete my degree more quickly.”

However, she had some concerns about all the work she had already put into earning her degree.

“I was worried that I would have to start over from square one, but the university allowed me to transfer all my university courses from Ottawa U,” she explained. “The administration at UCW made it a very easy transition for me.”

With her background in media and communications, she described UCW as a great fit.

She cited the smaller class sizes as a major advantage to studying at UCW.

“Many universities cram hundreds of students into each class, which makes it very difficult to participate and engage with the professors. At UCW, the classes never exceeded 20 or 30 students, which gave me ample opportunity to participate,” Julie said.

“Also, the small class sizes mean that your work is being reviewed by the professor and not by a teaching assistant.  At UCW, I felt like an important member of the classroom. I never felt like a number.”

She credits UCW for providing the flexibility to complete her studies.

“If it wasn’t for UCW, I’m not sure I would have been able to finish my degree,” she said.

Despite her hard work and dedication, Julie was surprised to learn that she would receive the Academic Excellence Medal.

“Throughout my studies, I wasn’t focused on my grades,” she explained. “I just wanted to learn as much as possible so that I could become a better communicator. I suppose good grades were the result of that.”

Julie gave a lot of credit to UCW’s professors.

“I owe a huge thanks to my professors at UCW, who kept the course material current and engaging,” she said. “Their dedication and encouragement definitely helped keep me motivated and interested in my studies.”

Julie sings competitively with a barbershop chorus and quartet in Ottawa and will be competing at the international level this fall in Las Vegas.

University Canada West is located in the heart of Vancouver, British Columbia. The university offers both online and on-campus Bachelor of CommerceBachelor of Arts in Business Communication and MBA programs.