Category: academics (Page 1 of 11)

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!

Learning Power and Vulnerability at CSOP

Marnie Klassen

For the first time in my degree, I took a class purely on a recommendation, and man alive am I glad I decided to.

After some conversation and discernment, my academic advisor told me that she thought I should take Arts Based Approaches to Social Change from the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP). I liked the idea of getting some credits out of the way and having an excuse to come back to Winnipeg mid-summer. The course sounded mildly interesting, and though not related to the direction my Interdisciplinary degree seemed to be taking, I decided to just do it.

“You’ll probably enjoy it,” I told myself. “Doesn’t matter if it’s related. It makes sense for other reasons.”

Pretty soon my books came in the mail and sat on my shelf for most of April and May. Suddenly, I was booking flights to go to Winnipeg, and started my reading.

The opening ceremony of 2018 CSOP.

I walked into the auditorium where the opening ceremony was held and breathed a sigh of relief as I saw some familiar faces from CMU, and two women I had met at different conferences over the past three years. “I have a community here,” I reminded myself. “Whatever happens this week, I am learning in community.”

That sentiment proved truer than I could have imagined.

In my class were 11 students, and we represented at least 6 different countries. Despite the incredible diversity of culture, age, and experience, we began to know and trust each other quite quickly. How could we not when we were dancing, painting, and acting together?

Throughout the week we participated in numerous creative activities which helped us to understand various aspects of conflict, violence, and reconciliation. Here’s a couple of examples:

On Tuesday we made memory boards. In some parts of central Africa, stories are told on Lukasas, or memory boards. They are visual and tactile displays of cultural stories.

IMG_0729s

Our class divided into two, and each group created a picture/diorama representing our story and community. Then Babu (our instructor) went over to one group and destroyed their Lukasa, telling them that a member of their community had done it. He then came to my group, wrecked our Lukasa, and said that the destruction was by a member of the neighboring community.

After spending so much time trying to represent who we were, it was devastating to have our Lukasa ravaged. Our task then was to talk about how we would rebuild, how we would forgive, how we would move on. It was difficult!

On Wednesday, we participated in forum theatre. 10 of us lined up our chairs, and Babu and one volunteer did a dramatic reading behind us of a domestic violence scenario. It was powerful.

Afterwards, we divided into groups based on the response we were least likely to have in real life. My group was the “intervening” group, and we were all young women, painfully aware both of our power and our vulnerability. It was incredibly eye opening and empowering to talk and act with these women and come up with an intervention that kept us safe and allowed for the abused woman to get the help she needed.

Marnie (R) with classmates.

CSOP has taught me a lot of things – it’s taught me about using the arts in peacebuilding to be sure, but it has also taught me about this balance between power and vulnerability. As budding peacebuilders, we have so much opportunity to effect change and participate in the goodness in the world, but we also carry our own vulnerability and smallness with us. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like we are enough. At CSOP I learned to hold both truths, but to hold them with other people. This is the moral imagination – staying grounded in the here and now, and imagining a more life-affirming world.

Marnie Klassen is going into her third year of Interdisciplinary Studies at CMU.

6 study tips to help you prepare for exams

With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, summer seems to be just around the corner… but not yet—there are still exams to come. It can be challenging to find the motivation to sit down and study at the end of the school year. Even though it might seem early to start thinking about exams, it’s better to start studying sooner than later. Here are six tips to make studying as painless and productive as possible.

6 study tips — A modern wood desk topped with a black desk lamp, a large digital clock that reads "15:00", a colourful painting of a bouquet of flowers, several notebooks, a pair of glasses, a pencil case with highlighters tumbling out, a cell phone and tablet, and in the corner a stack of books topped by a small succulent plant.
1. Make a Study Plan

Starting early is helpful, but it is important to make a study plan. It will help you stay on track and make sure that you aren’t cramming in too much right before the exam. Creating a schedule with goals for what you want to accomplish everyday will help you feel more prepared and confident going into your exam.

2. Find a New Study Space

By the end of the year, it is easy to get bored of the places where you have been studying. Finding a new study space could help you focus! You could try the public library, a quiet café, or even moving your desk to a new corner of your room. CMU’s Marpeck Commons is a great place to try out in Winnipeg, with great spaces for group studying, a quiet library, and Folio Café

6 study tips — A view of Marpeck Commons from the Mezzanine level, down to the tables and chairs below, with Folio Cafe and the wall of glass letting in so much natural light.
3. Minimize Distractions

Studying is a lot more productive and efficient when you concentrate, so put your phone down and stay off social media during dedicated study times. There are apps you can download to help you stay focused— apps with timers, apps that buzz when you pick up your phone during study time, and others that block distracting sites. Focusing on what you need to get done and minimizing distractions will make your study time more effective.

4. Make Study Notes

Take time to make study notes, because making them is part of the process of studying. Use colour, pictures and diagrams, and highlight key words and ideas with certain colours or symbols. Create study notes that will help you learn and that fit the way you remember material. It’s also more fun when you take the time to make them look nice! 

6 study tips — A student sits by the window in the CMU Library highligher in hand, reading a text book.

5. Take Outdoor Breaks

When the weather is nice, take a break and go for a walk, toss a Frisbee around, or take a nap in the grass. Having a change in scenery and getting some fresh air will give your brain some space to rest, and will help you concentrate when you sit down again to do more work.

6. Study with Others

Find other people in your class who you can study with—people who will help you stay focused and not become a distraction! When you study with others, you can ask questions about confusing information, but you can also teach, which helps you gain a better understanding of the concept and will prepare you for answering exam questions.

What are your favourite study tips? Share them in the comments below. And of course, we wish you the best of luck with your exams!

 

Laura Carr-Pries in her graduation gown and cap.

Laura Carr-Pries just graduated from CMU with a BA in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies and Theology. (She’s also one of this year’s President’s Medal winners, so you know she knows a thing or two about studying.)

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