ArtsX Faculty

Who exactly teaches ArtsX, you ask? And just who do they think they are?

Please see our official biographies and portraits below.

Jake Kennedy 


Jake Kennedy (English)—the guy was born in Woodstock but not that Woodstock then from around 6 until 14 years old he played professional hockey but not in the real world then he started to listen to The Doors and then he disrespected the ghost of Shakespeare during a high school English class and then he, at 16, was kindly asked to find another high school and then he found an alternative school and that place treated a searching human spirit being like a searching human spirit being and then (sorry about this) he thrived because that place demonstrated (sorry about this, too) a culture of learning and creativity that he had never seen—ever—in high school and then everything was great until he got to university cos uni wasn’t like his alt school at all it was like, um, his high school and the only reason he survived his unihighschool years was cos he had pretty good writing game and folks had to leave him alone so ArtsX represents a—holy moly—this-time-this-world-dream for him to get back to principles of creativity and respect and self-direction and collaboration and especially to return to a sense of wonder, you know, and a whole lot of yeses because (sorry) magic is alive (he believes it) and spirit is afoot and he’s optimistic that ArtsX is the proof. Oh, and he likes poetry and art and bicycles, too—and only very rarely (believe it or not) refers to himself in the third-person. True facts.

 Sharon Josephson  

Sharon Josephson (Communications) is a Surrey girl who was never meant to go to university.  After her high school counsellor advised her that she was best suited for factory work and that she would be lucky even to get a job with KFC, she moved to Vancouver to find a career in fashion.  After a decade or so of trying to make it (in what must be understood as the most sexist, most materialistic, and most shallow industry ever), all she had to show for herself was a deep and abiding sense of her own failure.  She had learned, unequivocally, to feel bad about herself—about her brain, her body, her hair, her face, her clothes, her shoes, everything.  And then—how did this happen?—at 30 years old, she somehow found a way to get her apparently dumb and awful self to university.  And then again—how did this happen, too?—she learned that she was actually pretty smart.  ArtsX is what she wished for that day in her counsellor’s office—something radical and different, that doesn’t reserve education just for the rich, something that will allow others like herself (a bit out-of-the-mainstream, slightly misfit, smarter than people might think) to challenge the way knowledge is made and shared, to ask that the politics of education be made foremost, and to insist that high school counsellors everywhere question their own assumptions before they speak.

 Sasha Johnston  

Sasha Johnston (English): I like everything (except, you know, all the things I do not like). When I took those career aptitude thingys throughout high school, my recommended CAREER (that is, the thing you are supposedly meant to do for the entirety of your working life, once you emerge from school into the REAL WORLD?) unfailingly varied from one assessment to the next. Upon making my college debut, I thoroughly resented being informed that no, in fact, I could not simultaneously study to be a marinebiologistforensicpsychologistjournalist – that is, not if I hoped to graduate within 15 years. What the wha? I suppose until that point, I hadn’t paid much attention to the many limitations that can be imposed by disciplinary distinctions. But I’m alarmingly good at following rules, so I checked some boxes, and went on to successfully check many more boxes (mostly in the form of scantron testing sheets). Over time, all that box-checking made me sad; and then it made me mad. I talked with lots of interesting folks who were also sad/mad, and switched the focus of my studies more than once. I had some really exciting moments when the stories being told in my course on literary theory collided, aligned, and imploded upon impact with those I was hearing in my course on philosophies of history... and then with those being told in the sociology of race and ethnicity... and the history of sexuality... and so forth. These stories were frequently crossing paths with each other, because, in the REAL WORLD, lives and learning and art and identities don’t exist in the boxes that our dominant approach to education tries to stuff them into. So, for me, ArtsX may be something I’ve been seeking out since my first high school box-checking, career aptitude assessment....

Ann McKinnon 

Ann McKinnon (Interdisciplinary Studies) was not a very good high school student, for she was always riding her horse. She went back to school as an adult student and started out in a journalism program, but she soon realized that she didn’t know enough to be the sort of journalist she wanted to be, so went back to do graduate work and was completely hooked on post-secondary teaching.  Taking courses in philosophy, creative writing, art history, theatre, literature, sociology – basically any class that would let her in -- Ann discovered that she loved interdisciplinary thinking. And, because Ann has a job, she can finally ride horses again.  When she isn’t riding her horse, she teaches Women’s and Gender Studies at Okanagan College, which allows her to continue her interdisciplinary interests.  And if that isn’t lucky enough, a new research obsession, Animal Studies, combines her interest in gender, eco humanities and her interest in horses. So, although Ann wasn’t a very good high school student, she learned that post-secondary is the absolute best thing and she does her utmost every day to make her students feel the same. 

Shelly Ikebuchi 

Shelly Ikebuchi (Sociology) loves words and ideas. She became infatuated with poetry as a teenager because there were some words that could not be said out loud.  They had to bleed onto the page.  Such was teenage angst. Angst was eventually traded in for motherhood and a series of jobs and life choices that never quite fit. It was her love of words that eventually brought her to university.  There, she learned that the academy had the power to judge not only her words, but the words of the great inspirational writers she adored. Words became less about expression and more about measurements of self-worth. The English degree that she had sought soon lost its luster. Floundering, as a mature student and single mom, she walked into a Sociology class and heard words that had power. Sociology taught her to see a world where the personal was political and where words were studied for their power and their ability to change lives and minds.  Here, she started to believe that feminism and antiracism were ideals that should be thought, not just theories that should be taught. Her goal in life is to celebrate ideas and change the world, one teachable moment at a time.  Her dream is to combine her love of clay (pottery) with her love of Sociology because she believes that everyone should have the opportunity to play in the mud! 

Julie Dais   

Julie Dais (Biology): How does a nerdy, pre-med basketball player end up teaching biology to Arts students seeking a new way of learning?  By recognizing that her entire first three years of undergraduate education was wasted on taking easy courses and memorizing terms to just get high grades.  I realized too late that I had missed the opportunity to explore other academic areas while attending university.   I went straight from my four year BSc in Zoology into the PhD program (fish parasites!) at which time I became a teaching assistant in the undergraduate biology labs at the University of Calgary.  Working with students was energizing and I realized then that a college teaching career was my destiny. My teaching style transition from focusing on just a single tree to recognizing the rich forest around me (to use a biology analogy) occurred during my 10 years teaching at Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy.  My hope is that I can help students learn, through a variety of ways including field trips, to ask good questions as well as guide them in finding answers.  This ArtsX program is an amazing way for students to explore and discover the relationship between seemingly different subjects and come up with amazing questions to investigate. Outside of Okanagan College I keep busy by volunteering for a number of groups including my local community garden, skiing with my family, by cheering on my kids at their volleyball games, and by pretending to be a dance mom (I’m a pro at French braiding and false eyelashes)!

Gill Green 

My name is Gill Green (Geography). I am a Tar Heel from the American South. I take Mark Twain as gospel. Especially his quote, 'Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.'  Curiosity is my curse and my blessing... My middle name means a person that is wayward or wild. Curious and wayward, I went to three universities before I finished my undergrad. I studied to be an anthropologist, economist, Japanese poetry translator, botanist, tropical forester, geospatial analyst, land use consultant, and farm manager. It took me 5 years to finish my undergraduate, 4 to finish my masters, and 7 to finish my doctorate. On the way, I got to live. I hiked a Buddhist pilgrimage on a Japanese island. I raced horses with herders in Central Africa. I started a fair trade business in Thailand and went bankrupt. I sat in the Borneo bush for an entire day waiting for a sleeping orangutan to wake and swing through the trees, but when he woke he just yawned, took a pee off the side of his nest, and went back to sleep. The most valuable lessons in my life have little to do with the course materials. They are about learning to embrace risk and compassion. Learning to learn and to teach. Learning to help people that want to positively change their communities and their lives. I believe that you have something to teach me and that the best teacher is always a student at heart.