All the experiences Anika Dirk (BHSc '24) has encountered in the Faculty of Health Sciences' addictions counselling program have given her new ways of thinking, opportunities to participate in research and the skills to succeed as an addictions counsellor.

My biggest learning from my faculty is how to open my mind to all possibilities, continue to reflect on my progress and know it is okay to celebrate my success. I learned to be comfortable with who I am, and my abilities were enhanced and established throughout my time in the Faculty of Health Sciences, specifically within the addictions counselling cohort.

Meet Anika: Open to possibilities. Genuine. Reliable.
Hometown: Medicine Hat, AB
Program: Bachelor of Health Sciences | Major: Addictions Counselling

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

My most memorable ULethbridge experience is not limited to one single event, but rather the collection of memories I have acquired during my academic career. I have had the opportunity to build lasting friendships and acquire an immense amount of knowledge from my instructors and classmates. The University has encouraged me to explore new ways of thinking, seek and embrace opportunities, and prepared me for my future as an addictions counsellor. Therefore, my most memorable moment cannot be limited to one experience because the journey to reaching this day is unforgettable.

Have you participated in experiential or work-integrated learning?

In my applied study course, Research in Indigenous Approaches to Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice, I was the first writer on a scoping review manuscript that will soon be sent to a journal to begin the peer-review process. The overall topic of my manuscript is the psychosocial conditions and factors Indigenous youth face when they have been involved in the child welfare system. The manuscript will contribute to a larger scoping review Dr. Janice Victor, the principal researcher, is conducting. I am also a research assistant for this project.

The main takeaways from my participation in the applied study are the importance of remaining flexible, being okay with setbacks and reassessing my process of approaching situations, and the importance of looking beyond what I see, becoming more curious about it and asking questions.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

I have a profound and amazing support group, and without it, my success would not have been possible. My two addictions counselling instructors, Colleen Hillock and Russel Webb, from Medicine Hat College, are the reason I decided to continue onto the University of Lethbridge. Therefore, I attribute my success at the University to them. Without them and their encouragement and support, I would not have chosen to come to the University.

Did you receive scholarships and awards?

The scholarships I received while at the University helped decrease the amount of student loan money I needed to request and served as validation for my hard work and gave me a sense of accomplishment to be a recipient of them.

What are your plans for the future?

In the fall, I will be completing my social work degree online through the University of Calgary. I plan on working as an addictions counsellor while in school. Upon completion of my social work degree, I intend to work for a couple of years to gain first-hand experience, and then return to school to attain my master’s in social work. Additionally, I will continue my engagement in conducting and assisting in research studies throughout my academic and professional career.

My professional career goal is to work with veterans, first responders, and their families. My focus and goal is to work with clients with trauma, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder. I am undecided at this point, but I may eventually strive to obtain my PhD and work within a university in the faculty of health sciences.

What advice would you like to give those about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

The advice I would like to give to those about to begin their journey at ULethbridge is to have faith in themselves and trust in their knowledge and abilities. It is not weak or shameful to ask for help; it is the opposite. It takes courage, strength and dedication as a student and professional to seek support whether academically, emotionally, and/or mentally. Even if you think what you are learning in some classes may not be something you use in the future, do not let that stop you from gaining the enrichment of the knowledge of it. As you advance throughout your academic and professional careers, you will be surprised by the times you have to apply what you learned in these seemingly "pointless classes." Even if it is just having a random conversation with someone in the class and building a friendship or connection for future endeavours, the knowledge is invaluable.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I like to volunteer, maintain active involvement with my church, read, go for coffee with friends, go on spontaneous road trips and adventures, and spend time walking and cuddling with my two dogs.

Welcome to the ULethbridge Alumni Family! Remember to stay in touch.

Stay connected with classmates, share your successes, mentor future ULethbridge students and enjoy Alumni perks and benefits!

Update your contact information with Alumni Relations.

Find us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn
Read more about your fellow alumni.