Faith and science: embracing the big questions

As a student and student leader here at CMU, there is so much I could say about this place.

The community of learning fostered by profs who care about my success, small class sizes, and my time living in residence (which I cannot recommend highly enough), have given me more than I could have imagined. My education and faith are actively nurtured here.

But as a Christian, and a pre-veterinary student, the relationship between science and faith is always foremost in my mind.

Katy Neuman, sciences student at CMU, in BioChem class at CMU in May.

At CMU, I have had the opportunity to study both of these subjects at the same time. From the mysteries of the world explored through physics, to studying the lives of microorganisms in microbiology, I have seen how far scientific research has come, and how much we have yet to discover.

That infinite potential for discovery, and the astounding intricacies found in even the simplest organisms reveals to me how great our Creator must be!

My desire to work with animals, and care for Creation comes from my faith. As I study the complexities of the natural world, whether biochemistry or physics, this reality becomes clearer.

At CMU, I’ve been able to study with profs to reconcile the tensions that lie between these two realms. Separating the two now, would be impossible.
Katy Neuman, science student at CMU, with two white puppies.I have lived on a farm my whole life, and have observed the lives of many creatures. Having worked with sheep, the illustrations in Scripture highlighting the relationship between sheep and their shepherd, have come to life.

Jesus calls us to follow Him. He calls us to know His voice, and to allow Him to guide our lives.

There is something about the nature of sheep—the way they listen, follow, and trust their shepherd —that exemplifies how I want to live my life.

There is a deep connection between faith and sciences; a connection that sheds light on big questions. Being able to learn from such a variety of different angles is a privilege. I know it’s preparing me for the future.

CMU is not the only place to try to unravel some of these mysteries, but I know that my life has been forever changed by this place.

Katy Neuman is entering her fourth year of pre-veterinary studies at CMU this fall.

A semester on Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights

In December 2016, I was tired. I felt dissatisfied—like I had failed to actively engage in my education. So when the opportunity arose for me to participate in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights (PfIR), I seized it.

A semester on Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights

Mennonite Church Canada and Christian Peacemaker Teams together organized the PfIR. The Pilgrimage involved a 600 kilometre walk from Kitchener, Ontario, to Ottawa, in response to Call to Action #48 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It calls for churches to engage in public dialogue and action surrounding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). So that’s what we did.

As we walked, we talked with churches about the UNDRIP, and what it means for our lives, our communities of faith, and this country. It was also an opportunity to push the government to adopt the UNDRIP through Bill C-262.

The Pilgrimage meant something different for each walker. Some were walking for specific people, some carried stories. For each of us, it was an opportunity to do our own inner and outer decolonization work.

For me, the Pilgrimage was an opportunity to learn in a new way, a way to reimagine the “classroom.”

I was given the opportunity to participate as an independent study course for the Winter 2017 semester. 

Instead of a traditional university course, this independent study took me on a whirlwind of learning. From countless hours spent on the phone with churches arranging accommodations and food for walkers, to participating in many planning meetings with dedicated and experienced activists. From leading a group of people on a very long walk, to taking my own intentional steps as we journeyed to Ottawa.

Erin Froese (centre) with a group of fellow smiling walkers in from the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, having successfully reached their destination.

There is a different sort of knowing that comes from active learning. I learned many practical community-organizing skills, but the learning went beyond that—it seemed to seep into my whole being.

When I sat in a circle with a Cree woman who wept because she couldn’t believe that there was a group of settlers who cared about Indigenous rights, I knew the brokenness of this land in a new way.

When we arrived exhausted at the doors of a church, to receive an enthusiastic welcome, copious amounts of food, and even a foot massage, I knew hospitality in a new way.

When I walked through the landscape, hearing the songs of the birds and the cars, seeing the beautiful Canadian Shield, and piles of garbage along the roadside, I knew the land in a new way.

When I arrived home to find that my home community had done a solidarity walk to show their support of the Pilgrimage and Indigenous rights, I knew the spreading of grassroots actions in a new way.

A semester on Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights

My teachers included my 87 year old friend Henry Neufeld, and my 10 month old friend, Junia, who both joined us for the whole walk. My faculty advisor, my co-planners, numerous authors, the many indigenous elders and activists that we met along the way—every person that I had the honour of walking with and meeting on this journey, and the land herself—they were all my teachers.

The learning was diverse and plentiful, and it continues. I am grateful to CMU for its courage to step outside conventional ideas of what university looks like. I will carry these learnings with me as I journey into my final year of studies and beyond.

Erin Froese is entering her fourth year in Environmental Studies at CMU this fall.

Finding the light: An international student’s experience

Finding the light: An international student's experience

My name is Valeriia Alipova, and I’m from Zaporozhe, in east Ukraine.  
I came to Canada with the Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS), a year and four months ago.  

I would like to share a story of where I have seen the light of God in my life.  

When I first came to Winnipeg, I had many challenges: new country, new language, new people. For the first time in my life, I was away from family, church, and friends. I so was worried about my future life, I forgot to enjoy the present. 

But I knew God was there. Through all my worries I could see a light—the light of God, in people around me. 

Valeriia joins in the singing at Bethel Mennonite Church.

Since coming here, I’ve met so many interesting, generous, and lovely people!  I could hardly believe how friendly people are in Winnipeg—especially the people at Bethel Mennonite church.

They welcomed me with open hearts.  

People invited me over for supper to their homes, taking me grocery shopping, to concerts, Jets games, and sailing.

When I struggled with homesickness, they spent time with me, showing me God’s love and support. They gave me opportunities to learn and to grow, in both relationships with people, and with God.  

It’s the same for me here at CMU. So remember: you can be the light of God in someone’s life this year! 

Valeriia Alipova is entering her second year at CMU. She originally shared this in chapel during the 2016-17 school year. 

More than a degree, not just a number

More than a degree; not just a number: Stephanie Wilson on why she's choosing CMU, a relatively small university.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the idea of going to a small university scared me.

My high school was one of the largest in Manitoba, so having swarms of other students around was familiar. I was used to seeing people in the halls I’d never seen before, and not knowing most of the teachers.

I was sure going to a big university was the right thing to do. It’s what everyone else was doing.

At the same time, I was fully immersed in the music programs. I had a tight knit group of friends, and teachers who were more like family than friends.

More than a degree; not just a number. Stephanie Wilson on why she's choosing CMU, a relatively small university.

So when I graduated high school last June, I felt the loss immediately. Certain that my time in small programs was done, I longed for that same small group of people who were there for me when I needed to laugh, cry, or grab a doughnut. That sense of belonging was gone, because in university all anyone is concerned about is getting their degree, right?

Wrong.

One of the things I love about CMU is that as a smaller school, they can breathe programs into existence more readily than a larger university.

As a musician, a clarinet player, I hoped and prayed for a CMU band to join. And when I start this fall, there will be!

Another thing I love about CMU is studying in Marpeck Commons, or the Great Hall, and recognizing the same people time and again.

I love that CMU profs have an open-door policy. It says that I’m as important to them as answering emails, or grading papers. I’m excited to be known by more than just my student number.

Most importantly, I’m loved, accepted, and cared for by my admissions counsellor, faculty, and staff at CMU, and was even before being admitted.

There’s no better feeling than being wanted just for being you. I’m not sure this kind of care and connection exists anywhere else.

Picking the “best” university is subjective. Getting a good education in an environment where you can grow, and flourish into the best possible version of YOU, is what matters most. CMU is that place for me.

I’m a clarinetist. And I’m also a pianist, a singer, a Catholic, a writer, a dreamer, a sarcastic joke maker, and a life-long learner. I can do, and be ALL these things at CMU. I don’t have to put myself in a box just to fulfill degree requirements. I can be me here. That’s something I never expected from a university.

Stephanie Wilson is entering her first year at CMU’s School of Music this fall.

From Outtatown to CMU – finding the perfect fit

From Outtatown to CMU - finding the perfect fit

Hey I’m Cole! I’m from Victoria, British Columbia, and I am very excited to be coming to CMU next year! I recently returned from South Africa where I had the time of my life with Outtatown, and now I’ve chosen to continue with this amazing school for further studies. Some may call me crazy for deciding to trade in BC’s beautiful coastline, and mild weather, for Manitoba’s harsh, cold winters, and flat prairie land. But I do believe CMU is where I’m supposed to be. (Plus, I think it’ll be good for me to experience a true Canadian winter).

During our first semester of Outtatown, we spent quite a bit of time in Winnipeg. Every time I was on campus at CMU, I felt a sense of warmth and friendliness. Whether staff or students, every single person I met was so welcoming and kind. The experience honestly made CMU feel like a second home to me.

In the past, I considered different schools, but they never seemed right for me. CMU is different though – it’s definitely the perfect fit. The fact that it’s a smaller school has an obvious impact on the sense of community. I’m excited to be attending a school where I’m not just a number, where people know my name, and care to know me as an individual.

In terms of program, I’ll be studying Communications and Media. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but communications and journalism were both prominent options. While our Outtatown crew was in Hope, BC, we had a visit from the fantastic Danielle Bailey, (Enrolment Coordinator at CMU). She mostly came to hang out, but she also came to talk about CMU, and answer any questions we had. I brought up my interest in journalism and communications, and she told me all about CMU’s communications and media program. I was interested, but as the semester got busy, I sort of left it on the back burner. Over Christmas break, I prayed about what I should do, and sensed God pointing me to this program.

During our second semester in South Africa, we were lucky to have Mike Wiebe (CMU Admissions Counselor) and Paul Peters (Outtatown Program Manager) visit us in Soweto. I talked to Mike a lot about the program. He highly recommended it, so I filled out the forms right there!

From Outtatown to CMU - finding the perfect fitI am very thankful for the sense of community at CMU, and I’m also grateful for the opportunity to attend a school that is faith-based. I hope to enrich my relationship with God alongside Christian brothers and sisters. To have the freedom to do this at university, to be encouraged to do so, is invaluable, and I think, quite uncommon in our society today.

All this is to say, I am absolutely positive that this is where God has led me, and I am so very excited to start a new chapter at CMU! See you in the fall!

Cole Stewart is starting his journey at CMU in the fall, majoring in Communications and Media.

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