MVFC Student Spotlight Series: Carole

The Military and Veteran Friendly Campus program meets the unique needs of military members and veterans and is aimed at supporting their academic success. Meet Carole, a veteran and Fine Arts student.


In February 2021, the University of Alberta introduced the Military and Veteran-Friendly Campus (MVFC) pilot program to provide military and veterans pursuing post-secondary education with the option to access support specific to their unique needs. 

These specialized supports focus on the transition for active duty soldiers and veterans to campus life, including learning assessments that take into account their existing military training and attributes, peer support, veterans’ study groups and specialized advising.

To get to know some of our campus community connected to the military, meet Carole Begg. A former military photographer, Carole is an accomplished artist completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts.

What’s your connection to the military and veteran community? What did you do before you began your journey at the U of A?

I left the military in 2014 - I was a military photographer. There are not a lot of us, and it’s a very hard position to obtain. Our job is to show everything happening in the military - I would go on exercises with soldiers, work for the military newspaper, and follow along with any important visits or events for the Minister of National Defense. Each month I got to go in a helicopter to take pictures of the base, all the way to taking investigation photography if there was an accident. 

After I left in 2014, I took an esthetics course, but it was too hard on me to work in that field, with my multiple injuries. My husband, who is also ex-military and retired at the same time as me, started college, and then when we moved back to Alberta he went to the U of A.
He encouraged me to see the fine arts department there. He brought me to an open house, and I talked to a professor - even though I can’t draw, paint, or do anything other than photography. I submitted a portfolio and was accepted. But I had thought it was so hard, that I'm never going to be smart enough, they'll never look at me and they'll take younger people over me. Wow, why did I put all that in my head? 

How did it feel to transition into university as a veteran and a mature student?

I was so stressed because I had the mentality of being in the military and working in the field. For me, everyone was a client. Everything was a deadline. Everything was pressure, pressure, pressure, to do the work. Okay. Give it to your teacher. Okay. Done. Next job. I put way too much pressure on myself. I rushed through a lot of work that I could have done better. And then I realized design was very easy for me. The amount of pressure I put on myself was because I looked at my first semester at university as if I was back at work, and I felt I had to deliver instead of thinking that I'm there to improve myself from where I started and where I can go.

Were you able to capitalize on any of the skills you learned while being a military photographer, aside from the technical photography skills?

The multitasking, for sure. I can multitask what I need to do and students would say to me, “gosh, you're fast and you're doing so many of these.” And for me, I'm like, well, this is my job. This is what I have to do, right?

What are you hoping to do after you graduate?

I'm determined. I want to do art restoration, and that's why I'm doing my fine arts degree. Just to fall back on and to give me a path to get there. I might go to Cortona next year and do some excavation, too.

Do you have any tips for other veterans who are considering post-secondary, but maybe feel like you did before?

It's your own road. It's for you only. So it doesn't matter who's around you or what they're doing. Yeah, some of them will be part of it. You'll have teammates for a while and that’s great. But the thing is, you have to do it for yourself from the get-go.  When you arrive and think, “oh, they will not accept me, I was in the military”-- that hasn’t been the case for me. Students are always curious, and I even connected with a young man from Korea who had also completed his military service.

You also need to try not to be ashamed to talk to your teachers. Sometimes, I struggle. My stress levels can trigger me, and I do have triggers. Their respect for you is there, so if you’re struggling, just open up and talk to them. You don’t have to prove anything to them, just know that you’ll find a way and that you’re going to build your confidence. I had zero confidence when I started at the university. It was all gone. I guess the day I left the military I left it there. Just jump in it. Look at it as a new challenge. A new posting, a new transfer, a new task you have to do.

But I'm not saying I could have been as successful as I am now on my first day. All that it takes is some time. It takes some time, takes some thinking and some time to focus on what you really want, and where you are.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


About Sabrina

Sabrina is an after-degree student majoring in Media Studies in the Faculty of Arts, with a keen interest in fans and fandom studies. When she's not knee-deep in coursework or pop culture news, Sabrina is an avid writer and moviegoer. In her free time, Sabrina can be found in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, or enjoying an afternoon curled up with her dog watching K-dramas.