When Michiko Sakamoto-Senge was offered a term teaching position at Camosun in 1976, she felt a mix of excitement and apprehension.
Although she had completed an MA in Sociology in Chicago, she had no formal teaching experience. Fortunately, she took a chance and discovered that teaching was both stimulating and invigorating.
She was delighted, therefore, when she received an invitation in 1981 from Pat Floyd, Camosun’s Director of Liberal and Applied Arts, to become a permanent member of the Social Science department.
Michiko believes that learning about society, understanding the world beyond our own immediate surroundings, and recognizing that we are here to contribute to the betterment of society is the essence of Sociology. She’s enjoyed helping students achieve these ends while also encouraging them to explore their world objectively.
If asked what the best gift teaching gave her, Michiko would say it was the many times she witnessed students’ making remarkable strides in their knowledge and understanding, even within relatively short time periods.
In the late1980’s and 1990s, Michiko participated in the development of the Pacific Rim Studies Program. She became Chair of the program in 1999. Although the program had flourished and developed many academic relationships, Michiko was disheartened to see it eliminated in 2002. Michiko has always practiced what she preached.
In the 1980’s she became the founding President of the Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition, the purpose of which is to protect the human rights of society’s minority members. Around this time, she was also part of a faculty group formed to address gender equality issues within the college. As well, she served on a group called Teachers Against Nuclear Armament.
Across the years, Michiko’s volunteer work has focused on issues of multiculturalism, human rights, diversity, equity and inclusion — a parallel trajectory to her work at the College. Not surprisingly, in 2012, Michiko was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of her significant contribution to her community.
Submitted by Faye Ferguson, CCARE Retiree