Univer­sité Sainte-Anne

It’s never too late to change your ca­reer

The Coast - Career Minded - - NEWS -

Emily-Rose Sme­gal be­gan her jour­ney work­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign. With suc­cess came get­ting locked into the Toronto cy­cle: Com­mute, work, go to bed, re­peat. Plus she was trav­el­ling for six months of the year. Though this seemed glam­orous and ful­fill­ing, Sme­gal wanted a life out­side of air­ports. She wasn’t en­rich­ing the lives of those around her, and she knew it wasn’t what she wanted to do in the world. Sme­gal saw teach­ing as the per­fect way to give back.

“Pri­mary school kids have this play­ful­ness about them, and I so ad­mire their love of life,” says Sme­gal about her choice to tran­si­tion into teach­ing. She had al­ways wanted to be a teacher, and was keen to play a part in the teach­ing of em­pa­thy and cu­rios­ity – it was im­por­tant to her on a so­ci­etal level. But there was no way she could be­come a unilin­gual teacher.

“I’m from On­tario, and if you can only teach in English, you’re spend­ing four-tosix years on the sup­ply list, or work­ing part-time,” Sme­gal says. She made her next de­ci­sion: that she wanted to teach in French. Sme­gal had at­tended a French Im­mer­sion school since kinder­garten but hadn’t used it much since grad­u­at­ing high school, and knew she needed to feel con­fi­dent when teach­ing the stu­dents French. “I didn’t want to be an An­glo­phone who could speak a lit­tle French. I had good oral and com­pre­hen­sion skills, but my writ­ing was my weak­est as­set,” she says. Sme­gal had re­searched a few pro­grams and landed on the in­ten­sive pro­gram at Univer­sité Sainte-Anne.

Sme­gal started with the spring im­mer­sion pro­gram, spend­ing five weeks com­pletely im­mersed in French. “You sign a con­tract that you won’t speak any­thing but French, and ev­ery­one takes it se­ri­ously,” she says. Sme­gal calls it “Grown Up Sum­mer Camp” with the way the course was set up. She learned quickly and ended up re­turn­ing as a teacher in the sum­mer ses­sion. Once she com­pleted this in­ten­sive pro­gram, she felt con­fi­dent to move into the full Op­tion D’Im­mer­sion Fran­caise In­te­gree/In­te­grated French Im­mer­sion Op­tion (OIFI) at Sainte-Anne. These cour­ses are fo­cused on the needs of An­glo­phone stu­dents look­ing to work in a fully French stream and helped Sme­gal to fold right into her Bach­e­lor of Ed­u­ca­tion at Sainte-Anne.

“I’ve done a de­gree at a very big univer­sity, and here at Sainte-Anne you are an in­di­vid­ual,” Sme­gal says. “Teach­ers know you, and care about you and want you to do well. It’s an in­sti­tu­tion of se­ri­ous learn­ing; it’s rig­or­ous, but that’s ex­actly what I wanted.”

Sme­gal was in­spired by her fa­ther, who went back to school at a later age as well. “He taught me that it’s okay to change your mind at any time. There’s no rule say­ing that you have to do one thing for­ever.” Sme­gal says that this pro­gram has opened so many doors for her and en­cour­ages stu­dents to en­roll.

“It’s not as scary as it seems. The whole school staff and stu­dents are in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive and en­gaged in stu­dent life and pro­vide all of the re­sources that stu­dents need. If it feels like some­thing you want to do – this is the place to do it.”

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