Student Spotlight: Taysia Radoslav
Olympic hopeful and Veterinary Assistant Taysia Radoslav is moving through her General Chemistry I class quickly and successfully – all the while traveling around and participating in track meets in order to get her qualifying time for the Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles. And with one of the top times in Canada, she is pretty sure to make it! Here she talks about how she has been impacted by COVID, and how she manages her training, professional life, and school work.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what led you to take courses at UNE Online?
Sure! I was recently accepted at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, and I’m scheduled to start classes in the fall. One of the courses that they requested I retake to get a little bit of a higher grade was General Chemistry I.
My admissions advisor at the University of Pennsylvania suggested the Science Prerequisites for Health Professions classes at UNE Online – and that’s how I heard of UNE.
Right now I’m traveling around the United States competing in track and field meets for Team Canada to compete in the 400-meter hurdles, and training for the upcoming 2021 Olympics. I needed a very flexible course to fit into my schedule, and this course fits my needs perfectly.
How long have you been training for the Olympics?
I’ve been competing for a while, but I definitely began to take it more seriously when I started college. I went to Cornell University for my undergraduate degree, and I competed for them until I graduated in 2018, and then I went on to compete for Team Canada.
And then in 2020, the Olympics got postponed because of COVID-19, so we all just tried to stay fit. We couldn’t really compete because all of the competitions were canceled. This year is going to be big for us. We’re all ready to go and excited to start competing again.
So you have been taking General Chemistry I while trying to qualify for the Olympics?
Yes, and it fits my schedule really well. Last week I was in Arizona, and this week I’ll be in Texas. I’m taking the three-credit lecture course and the one-credit lab course, but I’m only working on the lecture portion while I’m traveling. The FAA won’t allow me to fly with some of the chemicals in the lab kit, so I had to ship the kit home to Canada, and I’ll complete the experiments there.
It’s been great to not have to do the lecture and lab concurrently. It really gave me the flexibility I needed to knock out the three-credit lecture course first and then work on the lab part afterward.
Why are you taking General Chemistry I?
I work as a veterinary assistant now, but I’m going back to school at UPenn to become a veterinarian. I’m interested in small animals, and I think I’d like to specialize in veterinary ophthalmology because I find it to be a really interesting field. For example, a lot of brachycephalic breeds have eye problems for a variety of reasons, one being caused by the amount of pressure behind their eyes. Ophthalmology is such an intricate and fascinating sector of veterinary medicine for small animals.
There are so many different avenues to go into and different sectors of veterinary medicine to explore – I’m really excited to get started in the fall. I’ll decide my specialization for sure as I get through my third and fourth years.
Did you feel that the course curriculum was rigorous?
I’ve found it extremely doable. It takes me about five hours to do a week’s worth of work, so I’ll usually sit down and do it all in one day. It’s also very easy to get in touch with my instructor when I have questions. She’s literally there 24/7 and has been an invaluable resource for me!
She’ll go through problems with me using Blackboard and Google Meets, and that’s been super helpful. She has a document camera that she points right down to her paper, and she’ll work through an entire problem with me. It’s very easy to follow, and it’s been very helpful when I had issues.
Do you take advantage of the office hours provided in your course?
Absolutely. My instructor has office hours once a week, and I go every week. The first two weeks nobody else came, so we just chatted, but this past week we had people join us, so we went through some problems. It’s really helpful to see what other people have for questions.
And it’s also helpful for me just to kind of watch and see where everybody else is because when they were asking questions, I was actually studying for my midterm. It was a nice review, and it really helped me prepare and learn from other people in the class.
What has been your biggest challenge in this course, and how have you managed it?
The biggest challenge for me has definitely been the density of the material. A lot of times the assigned reading is half of a chapter, and we’ll also have supplemental lecture videos that the instructor has made for more difficult subjects. In addition to the material, we have homework questions and also tests.
So for me, because the material is so dense, it was taking me a long time to get through it. So I started watching the lecture videos first, to get a sense of what the most important information is, and what I need to draw from the text. Then I’ll go back and read the chapter, and I’ve found that I’m pulling a lot more out of the material.
Sometimes I’ll look at the homework questions first, to see what they’re asking for. So then I can go back into the readings and then narrow in on those subjects.
I found that approaching the material a little bit differently – watching the video lectures and looking at the homework questions and then going back and then reading the section – has helped me focus in on all the necessary information.
Any advice for future General Chemistry I students?
Stick with it. I’ve noticed a lot of people in my current class are struggling with some of the material from the early weeks, and the best advice that I’ve heard our instructor give them is to stay with it. Work through the problems and reach out for help when needed. There are a lot of resources that the course designers have made available if you’re struggling through the material. Use everything that they’ve given you.
One good resource is the chemistry study room – it’s a chat room with the other students in the class. You can ask questions and other people can get back to you. It’s a nice way to connect with other students who may be struggling through the same thing that you’re struggling with.
It’s easy to get discouraged because it’s a lot of work, and it can be overwhelming – but just take it one week at a time.
Also – create a timeline for yourself to make sure that you’re staying on top of your coursework and completing everything at least by the weekly timelines that they’ve given, so you don’t fall behind.
Did you find that you had an easy time sticking to your timeline or was it kind of more of a challenge?
I’ve set up a very rigorous schedule for myself in order to complete the class more quickly. I’ve found that it takes 4-5 hours to complete one week’s worth of coursework, so I’ve structured my day around that.
Right now I’m out in Arizona for training, so my routine is to go to practice for a few hours each day, and then come home and start my chemistry. It’s a lot easier for me to dedicate the four to five hours a day to chemistry in order to get through the class quickly, as opposed to somebody that might be working full time and has kids and has a whole bunch of different stuff going on.
It’s important to know your schedule, figure out what fits into your life, and make sure it’s realistic.
When will you know if you qualified for the Olympics?
The Olympics are held at the end of July, and I’ll find out if I made the team at the beginning of July. I’m super hopeful. As long as I can stay healthy and we get a couple of meets in, I think I should be fine.
COVID has really thrown a wrench in everyone’s competition plans. Right now it’s difficult to find meets that have your event and that you can travel to safely. Normally we would do a lot of traveling to attend high caliber meets, so I’d be going back and forth to the States or Europe, but because of the current travel restrictions when I go home to Canada, I’m very limited and will have to stay there. It’s been a logistical nightmare.
In 2016 I missed qualifying for the team by just 0.28 seconds – I was really close, but just didn’t make it. But this time around I feel confident – I think I have a good shot.
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