Skip to content

Hard work, luck and a dream for new Humber prof.
And a really stinky flower.

By Joyce Grant

corpse flower

I’m teaching at the college level for the first time. It’s the culmination of hard work, some luck and a dream. 


Sample Facebook post by student Taisa Hawryshko.

The hard work was accumulating experience over a lifetime as a writer, and then going back to school in 2018 to graduate from University of Gloucestershire with my Master’s degree. The Gloucestershire course is a Master’s extension for Humber grads—I earned my professional certificate from the Humber School for Writers program.

The lucky bit was finding out that the Media Communications diploma program in the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts was looking for a prof with my credentials. I applied and it turned out to be a great fit.

The dream is mine—to teach at the college level. I had the opportunity to share my Humber story with the Alumni team when they filmed a piece about the children’s books I’ve written. They were, like everyone I’ve met at Humber, creative, enthusiastic and supportive. I seized the teaching opportunity with both hands.

So, how did I end up next to a stinky corpse flower? Fast-forward to my first class at Humber, for which I had to design an assignment. About 10 years ago, I’d witnessed the blooming of a spectacular corpse flower. It only blooms about once a decade and there aren’t many of them in the world. Very rare. And very smelly. Fun!

Here’s the assignment that Andrew Flynn (the other prof teaching the course) and I developed: You’re writing a strategic blog post about a rare corpse flower that’s about to bloom at your botanical gardens.

We used the fictional corpse flower idea over several related assignments for all 90 students. So I’ve been reading about corpse flowers for months now. I know just about everything there is to know about them. How rare they are. How tall they are. How they emit a terrible odour when they bloom. I was practically seeing corpse flowers in my sleep.

When I woke up one morning to read in the local news that “a rare corpse flower is about to bloom” in a greenhouse near me, I thought I’d accidentally tapped into my Humber Blackboard. But no, this was a massively rare—and pretty hilarious—co-incidence. I had to see it for myself and get photographic evidence for our students. 

Everyone got a kick out of it. I told the students that their excellent work over the semester had conjured up the real thing. And it could well be true. (Check out this blog post by student Lama Alnaem to see an example of their great work.)

It’s just another happy event in what has been a truly wonderful first year of teaching. And, just in case it’s actually true that the students’ work conjured up the corpse flower, our next assignment will be: You’re working for the Canadian mint and you decide to give your profs $1M in gold bullion.


Sample Tweet by student Sara Boulay.

Do you have a story to tell about your career since graduating from Humber?