Alum of the Month: Ashley Kuramoto

Ashley Kuramoto smiles with a natural and/or garden background

May 20, 2023 - 5:45pm

From student to teacher to published author

Since graduating from Vancouver Island University in 2011 with her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees, Ashley Kuramoto has been working her dream job as a teacher. She’s also a mother and, most recently, a published author.

In recent months, Kuramoto has written and illustrated two children’s books that encourage families to explore fun spots in the mid-Island area. The Little Adventures colouring books include scavenger hunts in popular Qualicum Beach, Nanoose and Lantzville. These adventures are inspired by real-life trips she has taken with her daughter Claire. 

She has sold more than 400 copies of her first book and more than 300 copies of the second book, both with proceeds going to local charities. Coming out this summer is a third book focusing on Parksville, Coombs and Errington. After that, she plans to work on a fourth book featuring popular places in Nanaimo. Follow @littleadventurers_vi on Instagram to see where Kuramoto and her daughter are exploring.

Why did you choose VIU for your education?

I chose VIU because it was close to home, friends and family. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. VIU was a great fit because I could complete both degrees there.

Tell us a bit about your experience at VIU and in your program.

I connected with some incredible professors who were invested in my success. I never felt like a number on a list, all my professors knew my name and what my goals were. I made some great friends and always felt safe and accepted.

How did your program prepare you for your current job?

The education program prepared me to be a teacher and perhaps one day, once I finish my master’s degree, I will be a professor.

Can you share an experience where one of your profs, or the learning community you were in, made an impact on your learning experience?

One of my professors from my major – which was called Sports Health and Physical Education at the time – told me to take courses that weren’t in my specialty. Try something completely different! It’s safe to say life drawing and Spanish were not in the SHAPE program, but I’m forever grateful I took them. Thanks Don Cohen, you were a favourite professor!

Tell us about your Little Adventures children’s books and why you started writing them.

I always wanted to write a children’s book but was afraid to take the leap and put myself out there. Whenever you take a risk, failure is always possible, but if I didn’t try, that was as good as failing. As a teacher I specialize in outdoor education and love taking my daughter out for adventures. I thought it would be fun to create a book to get people outdoors exploring. My first book features 20 locations in the Qualicum Beach area. I have provided the coordinates for a location and clues to a scavenger hunt for little or big explorers to go on. I have also written a description of the area and if it has a bathroom or is accessible. This is not just a children’s adventure book, but also a colouring book. It has drawings to match the area to colour in. All proceeds go to Mamas for Mamas Vancouver Island. So far I have donated $4,000 to Mamas for Mamas, but now partial proceeds are also benefiting families in need with the District 69 Backpack program. As I can see firsthand as a teacher, families are struggling to put food on the tables. 

My second book, published just a few months after my first one, is the same concept as the first but the locations are in the Nanoose Bay and Lantzville areas. Partial proceeds of this book go to Surfrider Pacific Rim. For every 100 books I sell, I will donate $500.

I am working on a third book, which will focus on Parksville and Errington. I have already reached out to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association (NIWRA) about donating partial proceeds from the sale of each book to their organization. Finally, stay tuned for a fourth book, which will focus on Nanaimo.

I have had many people ask why I don’t keep the profits from my books. I am fortunate to fulfill my dream, and it makes it even more special when I can help others, the Earth and animals too. 

What’s next for you?

I look forward to continuing my work as an author, illustrator and completing my masters with Queens University.

What advice would you give VIU students following a similar trajectory as yourself?

Take courses that wouldn’t normally interest you. You may surprise yourself. Thanks Don! Take risks, have fun and be adventurous.

Tags: Education | Our Alumni

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