Category: 2019-20 (Page 2 of 5)

Practicum is a zoo (literally)

Every student who graduates from CMU does a practicum placement. It doesn’t matter what you’re majoring in, whether you’re completing a three or four-year degree, or whether you know exactly what career you want (fun fact: it’s okay if you don’t). Every single student does a practicum. And if you ask any student here about their practicum, they are bound to tell you story after story about why the experience is SO very worth it.

Jana Klassen is one of these people.

Jana is a fifth-year science major, captain of the women’s volleyball team, and a hard-core animal lover. When she walked into the practicum advising office last year, she expected to leave with a bit more direction in her step, but she never expected that these next steps would lead her into the veterinary offices of the Assiniboine Park Zoo. I sat down with Jana for a conversation about her wild practicum experiences…

So Jana, I know that you LOVE animals. How did that begin?

So growing up, we lived in the city (Calgary), we had a dog which was super great, but my cousins lived a few hours away and they had a big farm with horses, rabbits, cats, and dogs. A random assortment of animals was always around. It was through that relationship that I wound up getting my own horse that lived at a family friend’s ranch. I got exposed to even more animals there. They had sheep, chickens, a donkey… I helped out around the ranch, and even got to experience a lambing season which was a great experience.

When did you realize you wanted to work with animals one day?

I think that was something I always really knew. I remember in the third grade I told people I wanted to be a marine biologist, even though I was scared of water. My true dream was to be a vet, though. I just thought marine biologist sounded cooler!

What was the process like when you decided it was time to do your practicum?

It was surprisingly easy! I went to go talk to a practicum advisor and they said, “Okay, let’s talk! What are you studying? What are you interested in?” So I said I was interested in physio or maybe vet, and they asked if I’d be interested in working at the zoo. And I said “ABSOLUTELY – YES!” I met with my supervisor, and everything was a go!

So, what do you get up to at the zoo?

I’ve realized that in the setting of a zoo, there’s not a super structured schedule that vets have. There are a few routine exams, but a lot of it is based on the specific needs of each animal at that moment. Basically, I get to join the vet team and observe, help where I can, and ask questions!

What’s your favourite animal to spend time observing at the zoo?

Right now, I’d have to say the polar bears. I know they’re a classic, but they are just SO cute and SO big. Every time I’ve walked through their exhibit, they are so happy and playful, kind of like big puppies.

How would you say your practicum has prepared you for your future?

Overall, it’s really expanded my knowledge of not only animal health but animal welfare. Also, since zoo settings are more focused on conservation, it goes beyond just the clinical aspect of being a vet. There’s a broader focus on things like climate change and endangered species. It’s opened my eyes to the fact that veterinary medicine isn’t just used for pets or livestock, but it can solve problems on such a broader scale. I had never thought about that before my practicum.

What will you take away from your practicum experience?

Having this much exposure to such a wide variety of species is something I don’t think many science students have experienced before, and aside from how mind-blowing it is to get up close and personal with these animals, the experience also strengthens any resume that I’ll write in the future. Also, seeing how deeply the vets that work at the zoo care about these creatures is something I’ll never forget.

As we know, every single student at CMU does a practicum placement. Do you think this is beneficial?

It is ABSOLUTELY beneficial. This has been the best part of my year. Going into practicum I was like, I’ll find something to do just to get it done and get the box checked, and now I would highly recommend this to everyone. I’d do it again if I could! It’s so much more than checking a box. It’s strengthening an application and providing incredible real-world experience.

Thanks again for chatting with me, Jana. I’ll have to go wander around the zoo again sometime soon!

Chloe Friesen is a 3rd year Communications and Media student.

“A leap of faith”: Why a PACTS student joined choir | Guest blogger Cassidy Brown

If you find yourself wandering the halls of CMU’s south side just after noon most days, you will no doubt hear the voices of one of CMU’s choirs. These choirs offer students an excellent opportunity to perform for their peers, grow musically, and create new university experiences.

But what happens if you aren’t a music student? Maybe you were in choirs or other musical ensembles growing up, but found other academic passions. Not to worry, you can still participate in CMU’s choirs!

My name is Cassidy and I am a second-year student studying Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies. That is where I find that my passion lies. However, I love music and singing and so I decided to take a leap of faith and audition for CMU’s Women’s Chorus. Now I find myself singing with roughly 50 other women every Friday!

Guest blogger Cassidy Brown

As someone who isn’t a music student, I had many apprehensions about auditioning for a choir. What if I wasn’t good enough? Would it get in the way of my other studies? As I began my journey with choir in September, I found these worries slowly melting away. Like other courses, choir does require work and practice outside of the classroom, but for someone who isn’t a music student this is often a welcome break from readings and writing papers. Along with this break from other forms of studying, I found myself building new connections with women who are not in my same academic program at CMU. I did have musical and choral experience prior to joining Women’s Chorus, but even within the first rehearsal I found myself learning new techniques which I was thrilled with.

On top of offering excellent opportunities within CMU, choir gives you access to many other opportunities outside of CMU! For example, just this weekend both the Men’s and Women’s Choruses are working together with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) to perform Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy on March 7! Maybe I’m just a music nerd, but this is an incredible opportunity to have a window into what a professional performance is!

The CMU Women’s Chorus of 2019/2020

Aside from the WSO collaboration, my favourite event on campus is Christmas at CMU. This happens around the end of first semester, and CMU’s north side is transformed into a winter wonderland of music, apple cider, and laughter—an excellent way to finish off the semester. While this may seem like a lot of work outside of your regular class schedule, it’s certainly manageable! As I said earlier, working on choral homework is often a very welcome break from the readings and papers that I’m up to my eyeballs in for my other studies.

All in all, my experience as a non-music student in Women’s Chorus has been incredibly enriching. I’ve made new friends, had new experiences, and grown in ways I wouldn’t have been able to outside of a choir setting. So, whether you’re an incoming student or a current student and you’re wondering if choir is right for you, give it a try! You may end up stumbling on a new passion of yours.

Cassidy Brown is a 2nd year Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies student.

Residence students turn the tables on “Progressive Snack”

Each September, CMU staff and faculty host a moveable feast called “Progressive Snack,” inviting students into their homes for food and fellowship. (Naturally, it’s a per-course affair.) This year, students organized to return the favour, launching an evening tour of residence hospitality dubbed “Regressive Snack.” All staff and faculty were invited to participate.

On February 13, those attending gathered in the student centre shortly before 9:00 PM where Residence Director Charlie Peronto split the merry band into groups. Each group was assigned a different route through the three residence buildings, along which, denizens of each building would receive the group and ply them for half an hour with tea, treats, and conversation.

Anyone who has ever lived in residence at CMU knows that “9:00 Snack” is the very best time of the day. Whether returning from evening classes or breaking midway through a long night of studying—but especially if both of these are true—Snack is the time for weary students to kick back, let their hair down, and relax with a taste of something sweet.

Further, in addition to much unabashed procrastinating, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best bonding, the funniest jokes, and many of liveliest debates at CMU transpire over the crowded tables at Snack. In fact, people who know Snack argue it is among the best reasons for choosing dorm life. Thus, it comes as no surprise that students might hope to recreate a version of the Snack experience for those who teach and care for them all year long.

What a tour! On first floor Poettcker Hall we built Lego over double-stuffed Oreos, played pool, and took a tour exploring the endless ingenuity of dorm-room décor. On the third floor, we feasted on delicate arrangements of hummus, pitas, and sliced veggies, while apartment students regaled us about travels in the Middle East and all that they learned from their neighbours abroad. In Katherine Friesen Apartments, senior students treated visitors to home baking made with their very own hands while we chatted about religious diversity on campus and the different ways of praying that had been meaningful to each of us.

And all of this—you may not know how significant it is—all of this was done in February, just before reading week. “Regressive Snack” was touching, not only because students wanted to thank faculty and staff for their love and generosity by welcoming them into their homes. It was touching because, in the busiest, most trying month of a university student’s year, in the dead of winter when everything is harder, students who live at the best of times on significantly less than their professors demonstrated two of CMU’s core institutional commitments: modelling invitational community and exemplifying truly generous hospitality.

The new widow’s mite is a double-stuffed Oreo.

Beth Downey is a CMU staff member.

Counselling is cool

The semester had just begun, and I logged into my email to check for an update about where one of my new classes was being held. The email was sitting in my inbox (third-floor, North side – my glutes better be ready for a workout). But underneath it was another message. One that CMU students receive fairly often, and one that brings me so much comfort.

“Did you know we have volunteer counsellors on campus? The counselling sessions are free for all CMU students.”

The email goes on to explain that there is a counsellor available on campus every day from Monday to Friday, and how to get connected with them. It’s a simple process.

I’ve never seen one of these on-campus counsellors. But they have still helped me immensely. They’re one of the reasons I decided to come to CMU. Let me explain…

Prior to my first semester here, I had just begun going to therapy. A recent diagnosis of a Generalized/Unspecified Anxiety Disorder had led me to therapy, medication, and a new and necessary focus on my mental health.

Illustration by @chloejletters

Starting therapy was terrifying. To put things simply, it’s basically a process of unscrewing your brain like a mason jar and pouring all the contents onto the table for you and a total stranger to sift through. Even the stuff you keep at the bottom of the jar, the stuff you swore you’d never let anyone see. Slowly, but surely, you and your therapist start sorting. She explains why certain stuff is in the jar, and how to clean it out to make room for better stuff. She explains that your jar is a little different than other jars, and that it’s perfectly okay. She explains that keeping your jar in order will take a bit more effort, but that you’re capable and strong enough to do it.

Therapy is so cool. It’s exhausting and definitely not easy, but it’s so dang cool.

So, I had just entered this state of healing and understanding with my therapist. I was doing better than ever before because of my time with her. My goal was to go to university, but going to university also meant I’d be miles away from my therapist. The very thing that was helping me move forward was also the thing that made me want to stay put. It was confusing, to say the least.

Then I went for a tour of CMU’s campus. At some point during the tour, I nervously asked an admissions counsellor if there were any resources for students who had mental illnesses. And boy, was that admissions counsellor thrilled to tell me about those volunteer counsellors that were on campus every single day of the week. Just knowing that they existed brought me so much comfort and relief, that choosing CMU was a no-brainer. I may have been moving away from my therapist, but I was moving to a place where I knew I could get help if I needed it.

Once again, I’ll say that I haven’t felt the need to see one of these counsellors. Which is something I celebrate every day! However, many of my conversations with my friends here on campus about mental health and my experience with therapy/counselling have led me to recommend the on-campus counsellors. I love to forward that email that shows up consistently in my inbox. And I can honestly say that so many students here (likely more than I even realize) have benefited greatly from this resource. And it doesn’t cost a thing.

Therapy and counselling are SO COOL. And I’ll say it every chance I get.

Chloe Friesen is a 3rd year Communications and Media student.


This week is CMU’s annual Wellness Week! CMU is committed to promoting and encouraging holistic health and wellness for all in the community. Join us for a week of exploration, re-prioritization and rest as we learn new ways and remember old ways to be well!

The singing disciple: An interview with a cast member of CMU’s upcoming production of Godspell

Come one, come all, to the CMU Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop’s production of Godspell! Directed by David Klassen, this production features scenes and musical numbers from the hit Broadway musical, which is based on the gospel of Matthew and features disciples who belt out some serious ballads.

Joanna Loepp Thiessen

I sat down with one of these disciples, Joanna Loepp Thiessen, to talk about Godspell and why you must see this show! Joanna is a third-year transfer student studying voice performance in CMU’s music department.

So Joanna, tell me about your experience with musical theatre prior to taking CMU’s Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop course.

I have done musical theatre before, and have in fact been in a production of Godspell nine years ago! I was part of a production of the show at my high school, and now it’s back in my life! It was one of those cute little high school productions where we had like, fifty people in it, and there were twenty-five disciples. I played one of the disciples and sang a duet with my sister. I had about two lines.

Wow! So you really know this show well! What character will you be playing this time around?

Now the way Godspell works is that the names of the characters are just the names of the original Broadway cast, so my character’s name happens to be Joanne, to keep it simple. Joanne… Joanna… it all lines up. She is a funky, spicy person who is one of the disciples.

The connections just keep getting better and better. I think you were made for this show AND this role. What have been some of your favourite parts of being part of this production of Godspell?

I have loved getting back into acting, since I haven’t done it since high school. It’s been really fun working with David Klassen (director) because his stagecraft skills are incredible, and he has this ability to make beautiful pictures with people’s bodies. So I’ve really enjoyed working with him, and exploring a different type of music from what I usually do in the music program. There’s a bit of every sort of music style in the show.

Who should come see Godspell?

Godspell, and especially this production, is for EVERYONE. It’s a family-friendly production. It would absolutely appeal to kids, it would appeal to adults, it would appeal to youth and young adults. We’re trying to make this production that was once this flower-child, seventies vibe into something that’s really relevant for our current time.

Thank you so much Joanna! Break a leg!

Chloe Friesen is a 3rd year Communications and Media student.


Get your tickets to Godspell:

Friday, January 31 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 1 at 7:30 PM

Laudamus Auditorium, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd.

Adult: $10              Student: $5

For more information, call 204.487.3300

Page 2 of 5

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén