Alumni Profiles Articles

Getting to Know CMU’s 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

On Saturday, September 24, CMU President Cheryl Pauls will present the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards to Peter Guenther, Adrienne Wiebe, Ron Toews, and Brad Leitch.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU’s values and mission of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society. The awards are presented to alumni from CMU and its predecessor colleges: Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) and Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC)/Concord College.

We spoke with this year’s award recipients.

PGPeter Guenther (CMBC ’69)

Working at a prison is an unconventional summer job for a student, but that’s what Peter Guenther did while studying at CMBC.

At the age of 19, Guenther worked at the Provincial Correction Centre in Prince Albert, SK.

“While it was pretty dull and boring standing at various points and being a corrections officer, I saw the harshness of prison and the opportunity to make a difference,” he says.

One older gentleman who worked as a shift supervisor had a big influence on Guenther.

“He’d come talk to me about what was happening, reflect with me on how things could be better, and encouraged me to think of corrections as a career.”

That summer had a profound impact on the direction Guenther’s life has taken. In the years since, his professional career has focused on providing safe, healing, and supportive spaces for offenders.

He has worked as a senior bureaucrat and head of numerous correctional institutions, both provincial and federal.

Guenther possesses a deep commitment to social justice that dates back to his time in high school. His interest in helping the less fortunate was developed at CMBC, where he earned his Bachelor of Theology.

“What struck me and shaped me while studying both the Old and New Testaments was the biblical imperative to help and work with marginalized people,” Guenther says.

After CMBC, Guenther completed a bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Saskatchewan and a Master of Criminology at the University of Ottawa.

He worked for 39 years in corrections, serving as the head of numerous correctional institutions including director of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, warden of the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, and executive director of the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.

Guenther says it was the opportunities to lead and make a difference that he most enjoyed about his career.

He became known as a compassionate, principled, and respected leader who worked to reduce harm, violence, and recidivism.

Highlights from his career include increasing programming for women, and access to mental and spiritual support services for inmates and released offenders.

“It was exciting for me to see offenders complete those programs and move through the system, and eventually be released as law-abiding and productive citizens,” Guenther says. “The whole process of not simply warehousing offenders but treating them was most exciting.”

Guenther’s interest in restorative justice has led to volunteer work that includes service on the board of Saskatoon Community Mediation and the advisory committee for Circles of Support and Accountability, an organization with groups across the country that support men and women who have committed serious sexual offences.

Guenther and his wife, Marilyn, live in Saskatoon, where they attend Nutana Park Mennonite Church.

He is both excited and humbled to be receiving a CMU Distinguished Alumni Award.

“It’s very gratifying to be recognized, especially in this career,” he says. “It’s not the typical Mennonite career, but I’m very pleased and proud of the impact that I’ve had with both staff and offenders.”

AdrienneWiebeAdrienne Wiebe (MBBC 1976-78)

When Adrienne Wiebe recalls her time at MBBC, learning to think critically – and rooting that critical thinking in faith – sticks out.

“I learned that God wants shalom for the world, and that we as Christians are part of participating and building towards that,” Wiebe says. “That set the groundwork for how I approach life.”

Wiebe, who holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Alberta, has sought to participate in building toward shalom via a career in international development.

Following college, Wiebe travelled in South America for nine months. After falling in love with Latin America, she returned to her native Edmonton to do a Master’s degree in Geography. A year of fieldwork in Ecuador followed.

After returning to Edmonton, Wiebe worked for several years with Central American refugees at the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. In the meantime, she married Arturo Avila, a Chilean political refugee living in Edmonton, and they had two children.

From 1992 to 1996, their family lived in a Mayan village in the highlands of Guatemala, where Wiebe and Avila did community development work with a small Canadian NGO.

Wiebe’s experience in Guatemala stands out as a career highlight.

“It was really mind-opening,” she says, adding that initially, she went to Guatemala with the idea that she was going to help the people there. She soon realized that the community had been there for hundreds of years, and she was “just a blip” in its history. “Then I got really curious about the history of the community and the nature of the community, so out of that grew the PhD research I eventually did.”

Wiebe did her PhD from 1997 to 2002, with many research trips back to Guatemala, and worked part-time in a hospital as the multicultural services coordinator. This was followed by seven years spent working full-time in research and program development with Indigenous communities for Alberta Health Services.

From 2010 to 2013, Wiebe and Avila served with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Mexico, where Wiebe worked as a policy analyst and educator for Latin America.

Upon returning to Canada, Wiebe spent two-and-a-half years working as a provincial thrift shop coordinator for MCC Alberta.

This past March, Wiebe took on a one-year assignment in Ottawa with Oxfam Canada. At Oxfam, Wiebe works on evaluation and learning related to the organization’s global programs and campaigns on ending violence against women and girls around the world.

“I like the interaction between being an activist in some sense, and working with people and communities to understand what’s going on and how we can make things better, and then learning from that – reflecting on that experience, increasing our knowledge and awareness… taking that new knowledge and putting it into practice again,” she says. “I enjoy that research-action-reflection cycle.”

Wiebe says she feels honoured and humbled to be receiving a CMU Distinguished Alumni Award, adding that she sees her upcoming visit to Winnipeg as a great opportunity to reconnect with her alma mater.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going on at CMU today.”

Ron Toews 01Ron Toews (MBBC ’84)

In the Saskatchewan farming community in which Ron Toews grew up, a godly farmer tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I believe God is calling you to leave the farm and study to become a pastor.” Hearing and responding to God, even when it feels risky, has defined Toews’s journey.

“That shoulder-tapping impulse is something that I’ve carried on,” says Toews, who currently lives in BC’s Fraser Valley, where he works as Director of Leadership Development for the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.

Toews oversees Leaders2Learners (L2L), which connects leaders across Canada to learn together, share and pray together, and exchange resources that they have found helpful in their ministry settings.

Toews’s main focus is to serve pastors and churches by making tools available to leaders that are based upon their needs and ministry contexts.

“Through coaching we help leaders become attentive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings so that their lives can have maximum ministry impact,” he says.

For Toews, who holds an MDiv from the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, CA and a DMin from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, his role with L2L is the latest in a life spent serving the church.

From 1987 to 2002, Toews and his wife, Dianne, pastored two churches: Kitchener Mennonite Brethren Church in Kitchener, ON, and Dalhousie Community Church in Calgary, AB.

When Toews was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000, he began to look closely at his life and calling. He realized one of the things he valued deeply was helping young people in their journeys to become pastors.

In 2002, he accepted a faculty position at the MBBS-ACTS seminary in Langley, BC where he spent five years as Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies.

He eventually ended up in the corner office at ACTS as interim principal, a role he accepted after going away to Africa for a month with Dianne to think and pray about the decision.

They returned to Canada to the news that their 24-year-old son, Nathan, had been killed in a car accident. The experience, Toews later told the MB Herald, “made cancer look like a cakewalk.”

Toews left ACTS after 21 months, and eventually accepted a leadership development role with the BC Mennonite Brethren conference, where he served from 2009 to September 2012.

Toews began working in the current role he’s in shortly thereafter. He enjoys the job.

“No two days are ever the same,” he says. “Helping leaders and churches be on mission with Jesus is a privilege.”

In spite of personal challenges, Toews has remained steadfast in his faith, trusting in God and serving others so that he might “make a kingdom difference.”

He views receiving a CMU Distinguished Alumni Award as a tribute to the faithful farmer who tapped him on the shoulder, and many others who have invested in him and contributed to who he is today.

“Dianne and I give thanks to God for his faithfulness over a life that has taken some twists and turns,” he says. “We give God thanks for his ongoing journey with us.”

BLBrad Leitch (CMU ’13)

At 30, Brad Leitch (nee Langendoen) is carving out an impressive career as an award-winning filmmaker, peacebuilder, and playback theatre actor who approaches difficult topics with empathy, compassion, deep listening, and boundless energy.

“I firmly believe there’s so much overlap between peacebuilding and documentary filmmaking,” Leitch says, adding that both require empathy, curiosity, flexibility, and adaptability.

Leitch is the executive producer and founder of Rebel Sky Media, a film and video production company in Winnipeg, MB. His directorial work has explored topics of peace and justice in Canada, Iraqi-Kurdistan, Israel, Palestine, and the United Kingdom.

Some of his work is currently featured in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, and in a permanent exhibit at the Pier 21 Museum of Immigration in Halifax, NS.

“The majority of the projects I work on these days have led to a more explicit merge of peacebuilding and filmmaking, through the topics explored and through the lives of individuals who are modeling what peace and reconciliation may look like,” Leitch says. “The film itself then becomes a kind of tool and resource that can spur the audience’s own imagination for creating peace. This is exciting to me.”

Leitch’s interest in theatre and film was sparked growing up in Fenwick, ON, a community located 30 km. west of Niagara Falls.

He studied filmmaking for two years at the Center for Creative Media, a Christian film school in Texas.

Leitch, who comes from a Christian Reformed background, was appalled by the support for the war in Iraq that he witnessed when talking to Christians in Texas.

He developed an interest in peacemaking that led him to Christian Peacemaker Teams. He was part of a two-week delegation to Palestine in 2008.

While studying Peace and Conflict Transformation at CMU, Leitch joined Winnipeg’s Red Threads for Peace Playback Troupe.

He is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about playback theatre: participatory, improvisational theatre where audience members share a story from their life and an acting troupe immediately plays back that story using a variety of improv theatre forms.

In the field of peacebuilding, playback theatre is being used as a conflict transformation tool in education, mediation, psychotherapy, and trauma healing.

Leitch is also about to premiere Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies, a documentary that explores the goings-on in Laird, SK, where Mennonites and Lutherans have committed themselves to finding some justice for the Young Chippewayan First Nation whose land they have settled on.

“I’m very interested in seeing what peacebuilding looks like in a practical sense, and film is a great tool for showing that,” Leitch says.

“It’s something that can be easily missed: That these peacebuilding journeys are long journeys that people commit to and embark on, and they can sometimes be fragile,” he adds.

For Leitch, receiving a CMU Distinguished Alumni Award is both a surprise and an honour.

“It means a lot coming from a community I have so much appreciation and respect for,” Leitch says. “I am grateful.”

Alumni Profiles Articles

Dr. Angela Reed: Spiritual formation from Winkler to Waco

In the Baptist circles of Waco, Texas, she’s known as “the Mennonite.”

Angela Reed (CMBC BTh ’96, CMU BA ’00) is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of Spiritual Formation at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

“I haven’t actually been a member of a Mennonite church for 10 years, but that doesn’t matter,” Reed says. “They absolutely, wholeheartedly around the seminary refer to me as ‘the Mennonite,’ and seem to say that with great affection.”

Angela ReedOn faculty at Truett since 2010, Reed spends half her time teaching courses in spiritual formation and discipleship, and half her time directing the seminary’s spiritual formation program.

The spiritual formation program at Truett invites all students to develop habits that support personal and communal spiritual formation that may sustain them through the challenges and joys of ministry.

The program is based upon small group discipleship. Each student is part of a six- to eight-person “covenant group” that meets weekly for prayer and spiritual formation.

Reed’s work also includes providing spiritual direction in groups and with individual students, as well as researching and writing.

Her most recent book, Spiritual Companioning: A Guide to Protestant Theology and Practice, co-authored with Richard R. Osmer and Marcus G. Smucker, recently won the Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center Book Award.

“What I most enjoy about my work is building relationships with students, helping them to discern their vocation and calling, and helping them to prepare for that,” Reed says. “Part of that preparation is to see them grow in Christian character, and in relationship with God and others.”

Reed grew up an hour and a half southwest of Winnipeg on a farm near Winkler, MB. As a child, she enjoyed reading the Bible on her own, and as a teenager attending Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church, she developed a strong interest in personal spiritual disciplines.

Studying theology at CMBC led to pastoral work at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. She went on to earn her Master of Divinity through CMU and the Faculty of Theology at the University of Winnipeg.

During this time, Reed worked part-time as a spiritual director at Springfield Heights Mennonite Church. While finishing her MDiv, Reed began considering further study.

Her interests in spiritual formation and spiritual direction led her to Princeton Theological Seminary, where she graduated in May 2010 with a PhD in Practical Theology.

More than a decade after leaving southern Manitoba, Reed’s Mennonite roots still run deep. She recalls CMU’s emphasis on community in theology classes, Bible classes, and in chapel.

“I appreciate having come from this small community,” she says, adding that it has influenced her work at Truett. “Creating small group community within the larger context (of the seminary), I think, has been very important to me.”

“That commitment to community that I had within the Mennonite Church is a very strong part of who I am today, how I teach, and how I write,” she adds. “I will never lose that.”

Spring 2016 Blazer Magazine CoverArticle taken from the Spring 2016 issue of The Blazer magazine produced by CMU.
Click to view the entire magazine.

Alumni Profiles Articles Faculty Profiles

CMU prof completes unfinished book by mentor, friend

Paul Doerksen’s latest book is one he hoped he would never have to work on.

Doerksen, Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), is the editor of Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology: Law, Order, and Civil Society. Published this past October by Wipf and Stock, the book is a collection of essays by the late theologian A. James Reimer.

2015-03-12 - Doerksen Book (TaAPT) 03
Paul Doerksen (right), Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies at CMU, is the editor of Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology: Law, Order, and Civil Society, a collection of essays by the late theologian James Reimer (left).

Reimer, who was diagnosed with cancer while working on the book, called Doerksen in 2010 and asked if Doerksen would finish the book and find a publisher for it if he were to die before completing it.

“I agreed in a heartbeat out of respect for him and his work,” says Doerksen, who developed a deep friendship with Reimer after Reimer served as the advisor for his Master’s thesis. “I recall hoping that I wouldn’t have to keep good on the promise – that he would survive long enough to finish it himself. That would have been great.”

Six weeks after that phone call, Reimer died.

Doerksen and Reimer had collaborated in the past, and Doerksen approached his work preparing Reimer’s essays for publication with sadness, respect, and a sense of privilege.

“His voice comes through so clearly in his writing that it just felt like the work was continuing, only more slowly than if he had been there,” Doerksen says.

2015-03-12 - Doerksen Book (TaAPT) 02
Reimer graduated from Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, in 1963.

More slowly, and not as fun. Reimer was a humorous, engaging man who enjoyed cooking for friends and family.

“I missed all those things,” Doerksen says. “Nonetheless, the voice and the development of an argument – and the passion for what he was trying to do – was sort of a constant companion when I was working with his material.”

Political theology is a burgeoning field. In the book, Reimer argues for a more positive embrace of law, order, and civil society than Anabaptists have historically offered.

“He was trying to do Anabaptist work in the field, but in a way that was far more open to classical Christianity, especially the kind that was developed in the first four centuries,” says Doerksen, adding that he appreciates the comprehensiveness of Reimer’s project. “I think it’s a fresh voice.”

Reimer was Professor of Religious Studies and Christian Theology at Conrad Grebel University College and at the Toronto School of Theology, and was named Distinguished Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2008.

2015-03-12 - Doerksen Book (TaAPT) 04
Doerksen with Reimer’s wife, Margaret Loewen Reimer, at the Waterloo launch for the book.

He was an alumnus of Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges. In 2010, CMU presented him with a Blazer Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his contribution of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.

Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology is the third book by Reimer published posthumously.

Christians and War: A Brief History of the Church’s Teachings and Practices was published the month after his death, and La dynamique de la foi chrétienne: Quand les dogmes libérent l’imagination – a French translation of his 2003 book, The Dogmatic Imagination – was published last year.

Reimer’s wife, Margaret Loewen Reimer, says she is happy Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology is available.

“Paul did a really good job of presenting the essays,” Loewen Reimer says. “Jim would have been delighted.”

Alumni Profiles Articles

CSOP Participant Profile – John Fox

Criminal, prosecutor reunite at Canadian School of Peacebuilding

John Fox and Rupert Ross are used to seeing each other in the courtroom, not the classroom.

When Ross worked as the Assistant Crown Attorney for the District of Kenora, Fox encountered him during numerous bail hearings after being arrested for a variety of crimes, including assault and weapons charges.

“He was the enemy,” says Fox, 43. “It was always us against them.”

The two reunited at the 2014 Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), this time on friendlier terms: Fox enrolled in Exploring Indigenous Justice and Healing, a course taught by Ross.

10421523_10152650119632727_7406202910913010072_nBetween 1992 and 1995, Ross was seconded to the federal Aboriginal Justice Directorate. He travelled across Canada, examining Aboriginal approaches to justice with special emphasis on healing programs for victims, offenders, families, and communities.

He wrote two books as a result: Dancing with a Ghost: Exploring Indian Reality and Return to the Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice.

Fox discovered the books as a student at Menno Simons College (MSC).

“I loved his books,” Fox said, adding that reading them gave him a better understanding of his Aboriginal heritage, the gap in communication between Aboriginal peoples and the dominant white Canadian society, and the history of violence in his family.

“I was hurt a lot as a child,” Fox said. “Because of that hurt, if you don’t deal with it properly, you tend to hurt other people.”

Fox grew up in Big Trout Lake First Nation, a fly-in community in northwestern Ontario. From the age of 11 to 15, he was sexually abused. He lost two close friends to suicide as a teenager, and turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain.

Until a few years ago, he had spent most of his life working as a drug dealer. Fox was a violent person whose run-ins with the law led to nine or 10 stints in jail.

In 2008, his then-girlfriend’s sister committed suicide in front of him. Blaming Fox, the woman’s brother and boyfriend burned down his house.

After the suicide, things began to change for Fox. He stopped dealing drugs and started attending Alcoholics Anonymous. He began volunteering at a church drop-in centre and embarked on a healing journey that has relied heavily on traditional Aboriginal practices.

Today, Fox has been sober for four years and he is happily married.

Reuniting with Ross at the CSOP was a pleasure for Fox, and an indication of how far he has come.

“He’s such a storyteller,” Fox said of Ross. “He reminds me of an elder. Ask him a question and he doesn’t answer, he tells you a story.”

Fox may be enrolled in Conflict Resolution classes at MSC, but he says that what he’s really studying is the man he sees when he looks in the mirror.

“I’m studying myself, because I was a person with so much conflict.”

written by Aaron Epp

Alumni Profiles Articles

CSOP Participant Profile – Debra Wilson

Student finds place of belonging at Canadian School of Peacebuilding

The Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP) has been a welcoming place for student Debra Wilson, who has returned to CSOP for a second time.

Debra Wilson
Debra Wilson, 2014 CSOP participant

Describing herself as a person of many labels, including feminist, Muslim, Catholic and black-American, Wilson says she initially “didn’t think it [CSOP] was a place where she belonged.” After contacting CSOP, she says she “kept waiting for someone to say ‘don’t come,’ but that wasn’t what happened at all.”

CSOP, an institute of Canadian Mennonite University, is a learning community of diverse peacebuilders who come together to learn, network and engage in peacebuilding.

Wilson participated in the course Exploring Indigenous Justice and Healing, which was taught by Rupert Ross. She says her ongoing interest in “what justice looks like for others” was one of the reasons she signed up for this course.

Her interest in attending CSOP stems from years of peacebuilding work in conflict areas, which includes time spent in Dundalk, Ireland, near the end of The Troubles. She describes that experience as one of the hardest times of her life but also as what “kicked up” her peace activism.

“I got to see people who loathed each other but got together for the greater good,” she says. “People who had lost people on both sides said they couldn’t see the point of [violence].”

Raised by her Catholic father and Muslim mother, Wilson remains connected to both faiths. She’s a member of Unity Mosque in Toronto, identifies as a Muslim and also attends a Catholic church in her hometown of Chicago. Wilson says the faith community at her mosque energizes her in her peace work.

“I feel my mosque community is taking back Islam and what they feel are the roots of service and inclusion,” she says. “There are some very new immigrants in my mosque, and every single one of them is involved in volunteer service.”

Wilson’s also energized in her peace work by the “moments and seconds you have when people find some commonality, no matter how simple.”

She witnessed such moments of connection during her time in Dundalk. “If these people, who have done horrible things to each other, managed to find a way to facilitate peace, it’s always possible.”

The welcoming nature of CSOP was complemented by the welcoming experience Wilson receives when visiting Canada. She speaks fondly of the time a border guard stamped her passport and said ‘welcome to Canada’ without asking her to explain what she calls her “complicated background.”

One of the aspects of being a peacebuilder is that “you never stop learning,” says Wilson. Through her time and experiences in Canada and at CSOP, she says she’s learned about some of her own biases. “If you’re going to be an effective peacebuilder, you have to continue to learn and to accept that you probably have your own biases.”

Wilson’s advice for aspiring peacebuilders is short, but powerful: “Have a strong network. And stronger faith – an even stronger faith.”

Ellen Paulley is the Writer & Social Media Coordinator for Canadian Mennonite University

Alumni Profiles Articles

Storytelling experience in the classroom equips student for work in radio

As a reporter for CHVN 95.1 radio, Matthew Veith is doing what he loves—storytelling.

Veith is responsible for seeking out local news stories, conducting interviews, writing pieces for CHVN’s website, and reporting live. Through the stories he tells at CHVN, Veith says he has seen how God is working in many different places and ways.

“So many spaces we might have expected can be redeemed by God to do incredible stuff,” he says. “God can do more than we can conceivably ask or imagine.”

Using stories to invite listeners or readers to be a part of an event or opportunity is one aspect Veith enjoys about his job.

“It’s very easy to dismiss something if it’s simply being presented to you as fact,” he says. “When something is presented to you in the form of a person, as a unique story, it’s so incredible to experience that.”

Matthew Veith (CMU '13)
Matthew Veith (CMU ’13)

Veith graduated with a BA in Communications & Media from Canadian Mennonite University in 2013. He says his interest in graphic design and photography made a communications degree a logical choice.

“The degree is relatively open ended, but still gave me a lot of instruction broadly in terms of communication and media,” he says.

During the course Media Workshop, Veith gained hands on experience in radio production. Along with fellow classmate Amy Davey, Veith hosted a radio program called Let’s Talk as part of a class assignment.

“It introduced me to how incredibly rewarding, interesting, surprising, and humbling it would be to say ‘I’m here to listen to what you have to tell me,’” he says.

Veith says CMU equipped him with the skills in how to work in radio and that having a BA makes a radio host an interesting interviewer. Having a degree provides the interviewer with a deeper understanding of the larger context within which radio programs operate, according to Veith.

“Doing a university degree gives you a sense of the greater reality of what radio is doing—the idea that media figures into the way that communities sustain themselves, the way public opinions are formed, the way that politics unfold,” he says.”

In all his communications work—Veith also works as a freelance graphic designer—Veith says he is regularly reminded of the importance of storytelling.

“There is nothing more true about communications than the need to keep telling stories,” he says. “I see myself as a storyteller, bringing ideas to people, helping people see things that they might not have seen.

Note: As of early December, Veith has been lending his voice as the talk show host to the morning and afternoon drive shows due to staff transitions at CHVN. He aims to return to the news department in the near future.

Ellen Paulley is the Writer & Social Media Coordinator at Canadian Mennonite University

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profile: Danika Epp (CMU ’14)

Alumna Danika Epp draws on her faith and examples set by role models she’s found at CMU and in her personal life to develop her own teaching style.Danika Epp Alumni Profile photo

Currently studying education at the University of Manitoba, Epp credits the strong community aspect of CMU with enabling teachers to be close to and available for their students.

“The professors put a lot of effort into making sure that each student has a relationship with them,” she says.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in spring 2014, Epp’s major in History and double minor in English and Biblical Studies enabled her to study a wide range of subjects taught by a variety of professors. She says this broad knowledge base will help her as a teacher.

Growing up, Epp was taught by a number of family members, including her mother and father. Inspired by the way her parents taught, she appreciates it when her parents’ former students tell her how helpful they were as teachers.

Sharing her parents’ love of teaching, Epp hopes to help students in a similar way. “I want to help people find where they want to go and share my joy and knowledge with them,” she says.

Epp also draws on her faith when envisioning the type of teacher she would like to be. She says that being a teacher requires loving one’s neighbour, withholding judgment, and being patient.

“My faith helps me be the Jesus-like teacher,” she says. “I try and remember to be a servant.”

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles–Alex Klippenstein (CMU ’14)

This video features Alex Klippenstein (CMU ’14) at With Gratitude, April 26, 2014. With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

Here, Alex considers how Philosophy enabled him to more closely and rigorously examine the ideologies underpinning other disciplines of interest to him, such as Theology. He expresses gratitude for the way his Philosophical studies allowed and indeed pushed him to ask his very deepest, most difficult questions about the world, God, society, and himself.

Alex Klippenstein
Bachelor of Arts, 4 Year
Majors: Philosophy

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles–Brittany Uskiw (CMU ’14)

Brittany_UskiwThis video features Brittany Uskiw (CMU ’14) at With Gratitude, April 26, 2014, a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

Here, Michelle Kramer provides piano accompaniment for Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata.

Brittany Uskiw, flautist
Bachelor of Music
Concentration: Music Education

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles–Brent Retzlaff (CMU ’14)


This video features Brent Retzlaff (CMU ’14) at With Gratitude, April 26, 2014. With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

Here, Brent explains how his studies and independent research at CMU have opened his eyes to the relationships that link people groups, individuals, and events across space and time, weaving us all together.

Brent Retzlaff
Bachelor of Arts, 4 Year
Major: History