Category: academics (Page 1 of 11)

The Fourth Floor Has Sweet Chairs: An Interview with Students of CMU’s Social Innovation Lab

CMU’s North Side has a fourth floor?

Mackenzie Nicolle and Jeremy Dyck

Mackenzie Nicolle and Jeremy Dyck in the Centre for Resilience

It certainly does, and it’s called The Centre for Resilience, a space that CMU students Mackenzie Nicolle and Jeremy Dyck spent a lot of time in this past semester.

Nicolle and Dyck are the self-professed “guinea pigs” of the Social Innovation Lab: brain-child of James Magnus-Johnston (CMU’s instructor of Social Entrepreneurship and the director of the Centre for Resilience). 

The Centre for Resilience is a “co-working lab for civic-minded social innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers” (Centre for Resilience website). Creative entrepreneurs can rent out desk space and collaborate with each-other and enlist the help of enthusiastic students completing their practicum. (Did you know that every CMU student completes some sort of hands-on work practicum before graduating?)

 I sat down with Mackenzie and Jeremy to chat about their projects, experiences, and the space they work in.

Tell me a little bit about the class you’re in and what it entails!

 Centre for Resilience interior Jeremy: So we’re in the Social Innovation Lab, that’s what the class is called, and it’s run out of the Centre for Resilience. It’s kind of like a consulting/mentorship hodgepodge/cornucopia, a little bit of everything. We’re working with the organizations that are up here at the Centre of Resilience and identifying some of their challenges and working on them in the time that we have.

Mackenzie: It’s a practicum course, and we’ve decided that we’re going to be evaluated based on how well the stakeholders feel that we’ve done for them. At the end they write a letter of recommendation. There’s no grade, it’s a pass/fail course. What we get out of it is the experience and letters of recommendation, which look very nice for prospective employers.

Could you tell me about the organization you’re working with and the projects you’re developing?

 M: The two of us are working with Compost Winnipeg, which is a branch of the Green Action Centre. They are a social enterprise, and they’re planning on building a compost site on CMU’s campus! They’re hoping to start in the spring of 2019, so our position was to try to get an idea of how people in the area and people at CMU felt about the project, as well as any concerns they may have.

Because there have been previous groups that have composted in Winnipeg and have done it incorrectly, we wanted to get rid of a lot of the stigma that surrounded composting and to educate people about how it’s being done differently here.

 Any stories or experiences that have stood out for you two?

Centre for Resilience interior J: We did a community survey door-to-door, down Shaftesbury and around the neighbourhood. And that was sort of interesting, to be soliciting people for information. They were surprisingly receptive, that was a nice surprise! I did get one house where I was walking up to the door and saw someone in the window. He was obviously there when I rang the doorbell, but then I heard the door latch lock, so he wasn’t interested in taking our survey… *laughter*

M: There was another house I went up to and a woman opened the door. I had three short questions for her. So I gave her a little blurb about how we were CMU students and that we’d like to engage in a conversation, and her assumption was that I was coming to talk to her because I was against composting. Because obviously nobody wants a compost site near them, and that’s why you’re talking to me, right? *laughs* So I was like no, I’m just trying to gauge what people’s reactions are. And then she got very actively angry about composting. It smells and nobody wants this, and why would you do this, and so on. And then her husband came to the door and the wife walked away. But then he was a lot more receptive when I explained to him the idea of an eco-drum, which is a large cylinder that helps regulate the temperature and the speed of the compost. It’s enclosed, has no smell, and he was a lot more receptive to that. It’s interesting to see how people’s opinions differ based on their prior knowledge.

How would you say this course differs from other courses you’ve taken at CMU?

 J: I wouldn’t say it’s night and day, but it’s pretty close. The fact that there’s no grade at the end sort of implies that it’s really hard to measure success, and that’s because our projects are so different. It’s pretty cool to have a say on what you want to work on, because we were collaboratively with organizations to choose what we want to do, to actually discover what would be the best thing to do for them after analyzing their situations. So it’s been a lot of fun. I appreciate being able to exercise my creativity.

M: Part of the reason we don’t do grades is because we want the opportunity to fail. So that if you try something and it doesn’t work, that’s fine. And then you can renegotiate, research some more, and come up with another idea. And since this is the first time that students have been working with anyone here, we’re the guinea pigs trying to figure out “what does this class look like,” or “what’s successful, what’s not successful…” It’s a good challenge!

Everybody talks about how beautiful the fourth floor is. Tell us about this space! What is so wonderful about working in the Centre for Resilience?

 Centre for Resilience interior J: It’s bright. The vibe is a little different, a little more energetic.

M: Right now it’s a very hopeful space. There’s a lot of people starting off and moving in here. There’s a lot of energy, it’s a different type of energy than school. University has the waves and the seasons of academics, and up here, this is a work environment. And everyone here is doing a unique project, but are still able to talk to each other. The space is still kind of blossoming. I keep telling everyone that the chairs are my favourite part of this space.

J: The chairs are sweet.

M: They are sweet chairs.

Anything else you’d like to say about the Social Innovation Lab?

 M: This is an experimental class. It’s kind of James’ baby coming to life. It’s fun to see how excited he is about the projects, what he likes and what he doesn’t like. He’s a third party in all these projects. He’s someone we can rely on and bounce ideas off of. He guides us and he guides them. This class is about helping us figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s a great experience to be able to work with him.

Mackenzie Nicolle is a 4th year Social Science major and Communications minor 
Jeremy Dyck is a 4th year Business Administration major

Jerseys, London Fogs, and Green Chairs: The Beauty of Rituals at CMU

I’m sitting in Marpeck Commons (Folio Café, specifically) glancing out the lofty windows at the green-to-golden leaves that frame the stately castle on the north side of the campus. There’s a perfectly poured vanilla latte in my left hand and a pencil in my right. I’ve got a reading from my Art of Worship class spread out on the table in front of me. It’s discussing the beauty and importance of rituals, and I’m beginning to realize that my study sessions in this space, with a cup of coffee in hand, are a vital ritual for me throughout the school year.

Due to my Art of Worship course this semester, I’ve been dwelling on the concept of rituals. The significant actions and behaviours that I repeat week after week. These small actions make CMU feel like a space of my own, and add comfort and structure to my busy days. Today I began to wonder, what are my CMU rituals? Here’s the list I quickly compiled…

  • Ordering a half-sweet vanilla latte from Folio at the beginning of a long study sesh, and then taking a photo of the latte because I’m a millennial comm-student (and because the baristas at Folio have some serious latte art talent)
  • Stopping for a conversation with Charlie Peronto, CMU’s Residence Director, as I pass by his office on the way to my apartment. “What’s the word?” he asks. Maybe the word is “Gilmore Girls”, his adorable pup Rigby, how classes are going; anything!
  • Fall walks through the Assiniboine forest with my roommates, marvelling at the colour of the leaves and the sound of the songbirds, and enjoying a short reprieve from our books.

These are some of my beloved rituals I take part in at CMU, but I was interested in what my classmates had to say as well. Here are some of their sweet and quirky rituals they shared with me:

Ryan WaschukI wear one of my many sports jerseys on Fridays to men’s chorus!

  • Ryan Waschuk, Music Therapy Student (1st year Music Therapy, 3rd year at CMU)

 

Joycelyn OforiMy CMU ritual would have to be keeping myself busy after class in Marpeck every Tuesday afternoon. Or buying a London Fog from Folio before my morning lecture!

  • Joycelyn Ofori, Psychology Student (2nd year)

 

Marnie KlassenAs a commuter, I spend a lot of time studying in Marpeck Commons. I always go for a green chair if there’s one available.

  • Marnie Klassen, Interdisciplinary Major (3rd year)

As we go through the various academic “seasons” that come with a university experience (projects, readings, midterms, exams, performances, travel) it is comforting to rest in these rituals. To do them consciously and mindfully. To drink that London Fog slowly, to lay out that sports jersey every Friday, to seek out that green chair in the library.

So here’s to our rituals, to the actions that make CMU a place of our own!

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

What Do You Do With A Degree? Guest Blogger – Thomas Friesen

My CMU degree allowed me to get paid to watch sports.

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Thomas FrieseenMy work days consist of studying teams’ records and stats, making note of key players and storylines to follow. Then, I watch them play for a few hours, taking notes and photos. Once the game ends, chat with a few of them, (pray I pressed record on my phone beforehand), and put together a story.

There’s some stress, too. Things happen fast and the deadline is always looming. But, at the end of the day, I get paid to watch sports and share my thoughts on them. It’s usually as sweet as it sounds.

The journey from CMU to this was a short one.

I spent a 12-week term with the Winkler Times and Morden Times, part of a group of weekly newspapers in southern Manitoba. CMU director of practicum Werner Kliewer set me up with that, and it was a fantastic starting point. 

From there, the Brandon Sun reached out and asked me to apply for a job in its sports department. That’s it.

The years leading up to grad were the interesting part.

I went through three years of pre-medicine courses at CMU before it hit me. I thought about my passions and how they aligned with my path in school.

My conclusion? They didn’t.

So, what are those passions? I love watching sports and talking about them. Simple, but how do you make a career out of that?

It turns out there’s an answer within these walls: communications and media. With the starting point of communications and media courses, here are three steps that helped me land a full-time sports reporter job with one of the biggest newspapers in the province.

Step One: Take Journalism. CMU is offering it this winter.

Surprisingly, I hated writing when I started university, or thought I did. English was my least favourite high school subject. I dreaded those 3,000-word papers, drudging through old books in the library, and searching through various academic journals to find scraps of information by scholars I could attribute my pre-meditated arguments to.

It turns out I loved to write, but had no interest in academic writing. Journalism is the opposite.

Big words are discouraged. You’re supposed to write for the masses, so that anyone can enjoy your work.

Those long, drawn out sentences you write when you’re out of thoughts but need to reach an arbitrary word count? Gone.

Reaching a word count is no longer a concern. The challenge becomes trying to fit all your thoughts in. That’s a fun problem to have.

I’ve never heard a student describe essay writing as ‘fun.’ Taking journalism showed me how enjoyable writing can be.

Step Two: Stop asking for extensions

Those deadlines, the ones that you found out about on syllabus day? They are the easiest deadlines you’ll ever have to meet.

In the real world, especially that of a daily newspaper, the timeline is radically different.

Right now, you likely have a 600-word paper due in a few weeks, maybe even tomorrow morning. In this business, a 600-word story is due the day it’s assigned, sometimes less than an hour after the game ends. Being late isn’t an option here, either. Instead of losing a couple per cent on a grade, I can lose my job.

Make a habit out of hitting every due date and prepare for the unexpected. Learn how to meet deadlines, not make excuses.

Step Three: Start a blog/join a website

A Winnipeg Free Press journalist gave me this advice during my first year of communications courses. I started a free blog—friesentundra.wordpress.com—and wrote about anything and everything I felt like sharing. Every time I published a post, I shared it on Facebook and Twitter.

Your work changes when you know everyone in your network and their grandmother can see it. The feedback you will receive, and simply the process of expressing your thoughts, will make you better every day.

After a few months of blogging, I applied to be a staff writer for LombardiAve.com, a site that covers the Green Bay Packers. I still write for it today.

While I’ve never received a cent for my work, it has been a valuable experience. I work with an experienced team of writers and two editors who provide terrific feedback and teach me through the stylistic changes they make to my stories.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a long way to go in this business. I make mistakes every day. But, investing in my craft through unpaid platforms was a vital step that helped me get to the point where someone felt my words are worth paying for.

Still interested?

Fair warning, the hours are long, and in sports they are late. And newspapers aren’t trending in a positive direction. For those reasons, another piece of advice I received about journalism was “find a new passion.”

But I’ll end with this.

I absolutely love it.

Most of the day it doesn’t even feel like work. Every day is another chance to share someone’s story in a new way. Oh, and the people in this business are a blast. I walk out of the newsroom satisfied every night.

Thomas Friesen is a CMU communications and media grad, and former Blazers volleyball and soccer player.

Can an Introvert Enjoy Living in Dorm? A Personal Reflection

In my final year of high school as I was weighing my options for post-secondary education, I distinctly remember telling my friends and family:

“I will NEVER live in a dorm room.”

I was (and still am) an introvert. I thrive on time alone in my room, with schedule, structure, and control of my surroundings. Dorm life sounded like the opposite of all these things that I loved and held so tightly onto. People everywhere, a multitude of different schedules all in one space, shared control of public spaces, and a lot of unknowns; it didn’t sound very appealing. This isn’t to say I didn’t like people or making friends, but the introvert in me knew that I needed plenty of time on my own to recharge and take care of my mental health. To me, living in a dorm room surrounded by strangers for an entire year sounded terrifying.

ACS_0057Now, take this girl and imagine her moving into Poettker Hall in the fall of 2017, and then again into the Katherine Friesen Apartments with TWO roommates in 2018. My high-school-self would have fainted. As it turns out, a lot of the opinions and beliefs I had about on-campus life turned out to be misconceptions. Imagine that: a high school student having misconceptions about the future and the world around them. I’m sure that’s never happened to anyone else…

If I could have a conversation with the dorm-skeptic that I was in high school, or anyone questioning the positives of living on-campus, this is what I would have to say:

1.) Alone time is good! Loneliness is not.

IMG_9431It’s natural to crave time to yourself. This is time we can take to reflect, practice self-care, and relax. But, spending all of your time alone is not healthy. I managed to create a fine balance of taking time for myself and stretching myself to have conversations and hang out with people outside of my room! It came as a beautiful surprise to me when a floor-mate would knock on my door and invite me to do something or go somewhere and I would respond with an eager “yes!”. Now, I didn’t say “yes” every time, but I found that the more connections I made with the people around me, the easier it was to feel at home in the space I lived in.

2.) You’re going to make new friends, but you don’t have to be best friends with everyone.

IMG_8727Making new friends is great, and I encourage it! But I don’t encourage devoting all of your time to forcing a close friendship with everyone in your dorm building. You’re going to need some time to study, too. Friendship is something that comes naturally. You’re not going to ‘click’ immediately with everyone on your floor, and that’s okay! Making an effort to connect with the people around you is a great start. There is no dorm-life rulebook that says you have to know the favourite colour of every single person on your floor or anything like that.

3.) Letting go of control is OKAY!

ACS_0096Sometimes all of the shower stalls will be full, and that’s okay! Sometimes someone on your floor will practice their clarinet while you’re studying, so you’ll pop in some headphones or head to the library, and that’s okay! Sometimes you won’t write down “impromptu yoga-party in the first floor lounge” in your agenda and one will occur anyways, and that’s okay! Sometimes you’ll stay up later than you expected to, sitting in the hallway with some people who used to be strangers but are now more like sisters, talking and laughing while telling stories, and that’s okay! It’s wonderful, actually.

So, to my dorm-life skeptic high-school-self: it may come as a big surprise, but you’ll end up living on-campus and loving it. It’ll have it’s ups and downs, but with each of them will come growth and lessons. You certainly won’t become an extrovert in any sense of the word, but you’ll be able to call your university campus “home”, and that’s all you’ll need.

– Chloe Friesen, 2nd year Communications and Media student

“I really love < insert favourite sport here >, but I can’t play on a team and go to school at the same time; my GPA will be terrible! I need to focus on my studies during my university years!”

I know far too many amazing athletes who have said this and then hung up their jerseys for good because they feared not being able to balance the workload that comes with a university education while playing on a sports team. It’s time to dispel this myth! Honestly, I believe playing sports while in university makes me a better student academically. But don’t just take my word for it! Meet Daniel, Carley, and Vanessa—three CMU Blazer athletes who know all about that Student-Athlete life.

Carley: Heyo, my name is Carley Matkowski, I am a second-year bachelor of arts student and currently on the women’s basketball team.

Daniel: Hello! My name is Daniel McIntyre-Ridd. I’m in my third year at CMU studying Communications—I also play on the CMU soccer and futsal teams.

Vanessa: Hello, my name is Vanessa Friesen! I am a first-year student studying psychology and I play volleyball.

What are the benefits of playing sports while in university?
Carley Matkowski

Carley Matkowski

Carley: There are so many amazing aspects of playing university sports! Being part of a community with like-minded individuals that are passionate about the sport you love, the advanced university level is also amazing to experience because it takes your dedication and commitment to a whole new level, and through that you get to grow as an athlete and person.

Daniel: You become super close with your teammates, which especially for rookies means you have a ready-made social circle, as well as academic help.

Vanessa: The best thing about playing volleyball while in university is that it’s a super easy and fun way to meet new people and make new friends. The team makes starting university a little more relaxed and less stressful because they’re very welcoming and know what you’re going through.

What has been the most difficult part of balancing your academic responsibilities and sports?

Carley: Personally, I think it would be harder to not play sports while doing my studies because then I would have time to procrastinate. When you play on a team you are a part of that team which means showing up early to practices, giving 100% of your effort and being committed to all games and tournaments. It truly teaches you how to manage your time in a responsible way where you can equally balance your studies and sports.

Daniel: I usually have to miss a few classes due to games vs teams from out of town, so the soccer team has set study days where we all gather to either get ahead or catch up on our workload.

Vanessa: The most difficult part of balancing practice and school is just having a smaller time frame to complete work. What I’ve been doing so far is as soon as I know I have an assignment or a book to read, I get right on it. I try not to worry and get stressed that I need to get it done.

Do you think playing sports in university affects your grades?

Carley: I do not think playing university sports affects your grades. There are thousands of reasons and distractions that can affect your grades; you are the boss of yourself and if you want to succeed than that is what you will do. Also, while being on a sports team you have to be passing all your classes and have a minimum GPA of 2.0, so technically, you are more motivated to pass your classes and do well! 

Daniel McIntyre-Ridd

Daniel McIntyre-Ridd

Daniel: Yes, positively! Being able to take an hour away from hitting your head against a paper you can’t finish by getting your brain just focused on soccer is something I find super beneficial.

Vanessa: I played volleyball in high school and it didn’t affect my grades; I don’t see what makes university any different! I know many people who played sports throughout university and are doing well academically.

What are your athletic/academic goals for the 2018-2019 year?

Carley: This year I want to keep pushing my athletic and education abilities to their full potential. My goal is to work hard, never give up and always slay the day!

Daniel: Academics-wise, I’d like to keep my place on the Dean’s Honor Roll. For soccer, I believe we can win both the futsal and soccer championships!

Vanessa: My goals aren’t that big, but overall I just want to create a rhythm so that when I come back next year I will do a better job of managing my time and becoming more social. Because as a first-year student, right now I think I spend too much of my time in my room doing homework.

 What does it mean to be a ‘Blazer’?

 Carley: As soon as you step foot into CMU you instantly feel a part of the community. I thought leaving my high school I would never feel the same passion I had towards being a “Laker” anywhere else, but I was wrong. Soon after I became a Blazer! The community and love as a Blazer is incredible and I would never turn back! #lovethedove

Daniel: Being a Blazer means that you’re committed to achieve excellence both in high level sport for CMU and in academic standards.

Vanessa Friesen

Vanessa Friesen

Vanessa: I find that being a Blazer is almost comforting to me. The school colours are the same as my high school so I guess that’s why. But also it means that I have a whole school behind me when I play, they watch and cheer us on because they believe in us and want us to do our best. It’s like being part of a huge, diverse family.

Why should everyone come watch the Blazers in action?

Carley: “WOOOOHOOOOO YAAA, GO BLAZERS GO!” Does that sound like fun? Well you are right, it is! I encourage you to come out to all of the sport events to cheer on you CMU Blazers. We are a community and love seeing you there. We love the support and cannot wait to see you this year!

Daniel: We have a really dynamic, hardworking, attacking team that will be entertaining to watch even if the score is low.

Vanessa: Everyone should come watch because not only do we play for ourselves, we play for our school. With our school behind us at games, we know that we can overcome any obstacle that’s foolish enough to stand before us. Why? Because we are Blazers!

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