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From music to microscopes | Guest blogger Malcolm Reimer

As a student ambassador for CMU, I spend an evening a week having conversations on the phone with grade 12 students from across Canada. Almost all of the time, I talk to two kinds of people about their post-secondary plans, goals, and dreams.

The first type are those rare students who seem to know exactly what they’re going to do with their lives: the aspiring doctors, nurses, and veterinarians. They’re often the hyper-motivated ones, and they’re probably admired by the adults and teachers around them and ever-so-slightly feared by their classmates.

The other type, the wide majority of students I talk to, are the ones who don’t really know what they’re going to do with the rest of their life and would like it if you would stop interrogating them about their future, thank you very much. These students, like most of my classmates in grade 12, haven’t made solid plans for university or work yet and aren’t sure what they want to do.

So if you’ve ever been asked about your future and have no clue how to respond, I feel your pain. One of my friends in high school got so tired of being asked what she “wanted to be” by everyone she met, she resorted to one answer: a pirate. In my opinion, that’s actually not a bad choice.

I enrolled at CMU in the Bachelor of Music program, taking classes like Music Theory and Music Skills and History of Music… you get the idea: all music, all the time. In grade 12 I had auditioned on the piano for CMU’s School of Music, and I had a picture in mind of becoming a music teacher or band director, like the teachers I’d most admired in high school. I wasn’t really sure this was the right choice, but it was enough of a plan for a first year. I knew that I wanted to study music, so I did.

CMU students Anna Schwartz and Malcolm Reimer

What I wasn’t expecting was that even though I was in a relatively structured program, taking mostly pre-determined courses, I would end up discovering some entirely different interests. I took a biology course as an elective, just because I liked biology and I had the high school prerequisites.

But as I continued with the course, I found that I was more and more interested in science. I had the chance to have deep conversations with professors who worked in their fields and who could answer questions about potential careers. My professors were researching interesting things like self-regenerating flatworms and strange parasites that live inside three different animal hosts over their lives.

The more I talked to them and the people in my biology classes, the more I found myself drawn to the whole field. By the end of the semester, I was more conflicted about what I “wanted to do” than at the beginning. By the end of the school year, I was ready to switch majors.

This often surprises people, and I get a lot of questions about how it was possible to make such a big change in my university plan. The answer is that I would never have been able to make that choice confidently without all the resources that CMU offers, from academic advising to career planning and everything in between.

If you’re a high school student perilously close to graduation, you know there’s a ton of pressure to have a plan for your career and life, or at least that’s what it feels like. Choosing a university and a degree can seem like a massive, life-changing decision.

But no matter what classes you take at university, the most important part is not the material you’ll learn. What’s far more valuable are the skills you develop in those classes and the things you discover along the way. University can reveal new options you never considered before.

– Malcolm Reimer, 2nd Year Science Student

Geese-building and journalism: Tackling important issues with CMU’s investigative journalism team

Tuition Freedom Day at CMU

CMU does things differently. If you’ve worked here, studied here, or even just visited campus, you know this is true. And one of these things we do differently is tuition.

When I first heard about Tuition Freedom Day in my first year of studies, I was confused by the event. Didn’t students here just pay tuition for the year and continue on like every other university? The answer was of course, no, because CMU does things differently.

Tuition Freedom Day marks the end of the fiscal year that is paid for by student’s tuition, and celebrates the beginning of the year that is paid for by grants and donations from the Manitoba government, churches, and individual donors. And so of course, in CMU fashion, we have a party to celebrate and thank the lovely people who make our educations possible through their generosity!

Some highlights of the event include addresses from church representatives, alumni, students, and donors, music from our ever-talented crew of music students, and FREE pizza!

It’s a heartwarming event, and my favourite part has always been watching the donors interact with the students during lunch. They see the learning, discovery, and growth of our student-body, and it’s our chance to thank them for making it a reality.

So come on down to the CMU Chapel on Wednesday, November 20 at 11:30 AM, and let’s all celebrate Tuition Freedom Day together!

– Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

Crying out for the planet we live on | Guest blogger Mackenzie Nicolle

“What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!” This was the chant that tore through the crowd as we marched in the global climate strike on the last Friday of September.

Many of us from CMU had just spent an hour in one of two churches adjacent to the Manitoba Legislative Building, sitting with people from many Christian denominations and other religions as we all cried out for one of the core things we all share— the planet we live on.

The climate strike in Winnipeg was a place that brought over 12,000 people together on the lawn of the Legislature. As such, it was a place where people came for many different reasons. There were youth who fear for their futures and want to show the world that they are willing to say something about it. There were parents who were marching for these youth. There were Indigenous folks who want everyone to remember the harm that has been done to the land and their people and for us all to be better in the future.

There were animal rights activists who preached the virtues of eating without animal cruelty, and explained the explicit ties between global warming and our eating habits. There were communists and anarchists who were clamouring for political reform. There were people of many different religions who wanted to fulfill their place as stewards of the earth. There were people who came simply because they wanted to be on the right side of history and wanted to witness the mass of humanity that accumulated in one place.

I watched many different groups of people I know move among the crowd, many holding up signs proclaiming the despair and anger they feel—how our apathy is killing us, how we are frightened to think about what the world may be like for our children, and how those who have the most power seem to be doing the very least, while the most vulnerable pay the price. We marched, chanting about climate action, gesturing to people in tall office buildings to come join us, marvelling at the surge of energy around us and the clean air we breathed.

Even though people came for such diverse reasons, what really mattered was that we were all there. This was not a rally that clearly pushed for any specific political or personal change to be done. But some people wore buttons that said, “We are many,” and I think in the hours of the strike, our numbers were a message themselves.

We were reminding ourselves that we are not alone in our desire for a sustainable earth. We were helping each other be aware of how many ways people can be affected by climate change. We were sending a larger message to a disbelieving world that the effect humans are having on the earth is something we need to take action about, now. And I think that if the number of small kids at the rally means anything, then we will have people continuing our chants about climate action for years to come.

– Words and photos by Mackenzie Nicolle, CMU Social Sciences alumna, Senior Residence Assistant, and current graduate student

Why I love sports: A reflection on the volleyball home-opener

I’ve never been all that great at sports, which is a funny thing to say, seeing as I’m on the CMU Women’s volleyball team.

Contact-sports frighten me (no need to push, just ask for the basketball and I’ll probably give it to you), my lanky limbs usually don’t work well as a team (if I’m kicking a ball you’re all in danger), and strapping shoes with blades to my feet and putting me on ice?! What are you thinking (I still don’t know how to stop on skates, I just turn in circles or brace for the boards…).

Chloe Friesen (centre) and team celebrate after a point

But something about volleyball just kind of clicked with me, and I’m so grateful it did, because I love sports. And I love them for more than just the game, or the points, or the jersey. I love them because of what happened yesterday, the day of our volleyball home-opener. Let me explain…

The day started off like any other Wednesday: I woke up, ate breakfast, and headed off to my Group Communications class. Following class was practice time. But, instead of using our typical afternoon practice slot for, well, you know, practicing, our coach (the illustrious Jayme Menzies) had arranged a different way for us to spend the afternoon.

The CMU Blazers women’s volleyball team and girls from Fisher River Cree Nation

Cue our new friends from Fisher River Cree Nation. Ten wonderful girls who came for a day packed with their favourite sport. Like with any new situation, the girls were timid and quiet at the beginning. We were all different ages, all had different stories that had brought us here, and you could feel a tenseness in the space due to the newness of the situation. But set up a net and toss in a ball? We had a noisy gym full of new friends in no time.

This is why I love sports.

We spent the afternoon practicing our volleyball skills, cheering the girls on, and celebrating every point like it was the game-winner of the finals. It was by simply standing on the court that I learned that my new pals loved Instagram too, that some of the memes I was using were outdated, and that sometimes the smallest girls jump the highest. Seeing these young girls gaze up at our Blazers with the most attentive grins, hanging onto every word and piece of advice we gave, was something I’ll never forget.

This is why I love sports.

CMU Blazer Annika Loeppky practices with a student from Fisher River Cree Nation

With a “THREE, TWO, TEAM!” we said our “see you laters” (the girls would also be attending our game that night) and headed out to our respective classes or study sessions. We at least had to do a little bit of schoolwork before the big game that evening.

Now, volleyball home games usually draw in a few fans, but little did we know that Residence Director and resident Blazers hype-man, Charlie Peronto, had a little something up his sleeve. What do you get when you put together a DIY poster station, free Halloween candy, costumes, and hilarious between-set games? Bleachers full of classmates and friends, hooting and hollering, blowing off some mid-term season stress and life’s troubles in the very best way. It was a gym full of joy like I haven’t felt before. That’s the only way I can put it.

This is why I love sports.

Residence Director Charlie Peronto and CMU students cheer on their team

Sure, both the men’s and women’s teams won their matches in straight sets (#goblazers), but that wasn’t close to the highlight of the evening for me. It was glancing at the stands while I was grabbing water from the bench and seeing a sea of people who I love so dearly, cheering, laughing, and dancing. It was congratulating and celebrating with my teammates after each point, and feeling so grateful that they are also my friends. It was waving to the girls from Fisher River Cree Nation, wearing their new Blazers jerseys with the biggest smiles.

This is why I love sports.

– Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

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