Alumni Interview: Darlene Munro
Year of Graduation
Why did you choose your program at UBC and what did you enjoy most about it?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, French is a high demand subject, and I already had 12 years of experience with the French language so it made the most sense financially. I was introduced to some really beautiful literature throughout my French minor.
As for history, I went into my degree thinking I would either major in English or history as they were both subjects that I adored and that I had excelled at in high school. In my first year, I discovered I absolutely loathed analyzing literature and started trying to analyze the historical influences behind it instead (I prefer the reading side of literature). I loved writing history papers and learning new things. I was actually accepted into history honours because I was so excited by history that I wanted to write a thesis paper. I ended up withdrawing my acceptance when I realized how much of that path would be devoted to methodology and historiography classes, instead of history classes.
I chose to do my second degree at UBC because I already had experience at the university and their education program was one of the highest ranked in Canada.
What were some of your most meaningful experiences at UBC?
My most meaningful experiences happened during my first degree with all of the wonderful people I had the opportunity to meet. I met one of my closest friends in a lecture in my second year. I got the opportunity to fall in, and then out of, love. I got to learn a lot about myself during this time. I also got to meet so many people from different parts of the world and learn from them.
What choices did you make at UBC that contributed to your career success / journey?
Arts One has greatly influenced me in the years since I finished that program. My writing skills were challenged and elevated because of that program and I was introduced to the value of many different forms of literature, including those I would not have normally chosen for my own personal enjoyment: classic literature, philosophical literature, different types of historical fiction, newer fiction, and so much more.
What was your first job after graduation and what other jobs did you have before your current position?
After graduating with an Arts degree, I was presented with the opportunity to go assist in English language classes in France. The opportunity to live abroad and get paid for it was amazing. Since attaining my Education degree, I have held a temporary French contract in North Vancouver, and am now working as a substitute teacher for a district in the Okanagan Valley, as well as teaching dance at a local studio.
Is your current career path as you originally intended? What challenges did you face in launching your career?
I have known my career path since I was a small child. I was lucky that when I entered the teaching profession, it was a time when teachers were desperately needed.
What do you like about your current job and what do you find challenging? How does it relate to your degree?
Currently I am working as a substitute teacher in high school and middle schools, and as a dance teacher for elementary age students. I love getting to meet so many different students from all ages and all walks of life. It can be challenging with the lack of consistency but I am learning to love the different challenges that each day brings.
From your experience, what has been the value of having an Arts degree?
My Arts degree has been the stepping stone for so many different opportunities. It has provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge for teaching, an appreciation for literature, politics, and learning, as well as opportunities to travel and explore.
What advice would you give to students and alumni interested in breaking into your industry?
It is going to take a while and you need to be willing to pay your dues. Always be open to learning from everyone around you, including fellow teachers and students.