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Graduates receive award from CMU president

Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelsen are the 2016 recipients of Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) President’s Medal Awards.

CMU President Cheryl Pauls presented the awards during CMU’s 2016 Graduation Exercises on April 24. Bergen and Cornelsen received the awards in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.

“I feel very honoured,” Bergen says. “CMU has challenged me and expanded my thinking.”

Bergen, 21, and Cornelsen, 22, were chosen from a group of 84 graduates.

Bergen, who is from Edmonton, AB, graduated with a four-year Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Biblical and Theological Studies.

2016 President’s Medal winners Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelsen with CMU President Cheryl Pauls
2016 President’s Medal winners Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelsen with CMU President Cheryl Pauls

She immersed herself in university life by serving on CMU Student Council, singing in choirs, and performing with worship bands.

This past school year, Bergen was involved with Emerging Voices, a group formed by CMU students in an effort to respond to Mennonite Church Canada’s Future Directions Task Force.

Bergen is an active member of First Mennonite Church in Edmonton and has spent numerous summers working as a camp counsellor at Camp Valaqua, located one hour northwest of Calgary, AB.

Cornelsen grew up in Winnipeg and graduated with a four-year Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Political Studies as well as Communications and Media.

Receiving the President’s Medal was the culmination of an impressive undergraduate career that began in Grade 12 when Cornelsen won a CMU Leadership Scholarship, worth $14,000 over four years.

During his time at CMU, Cornelsen worked as a residence assistant, sang in choirs, played bass in chapel services, served on student council, and provided colour commentary as an announcer for the university’s athletics department.

An active member of Hope Mennonite Church in downtown Winnipeg, Cornelsen also volunteered with the music program at West Broadway Youth Outreach, helped with the Manitoba Children’s Museum summer day camps, and worked as the Bible instructor at Camp Koinonia, one of three camps run by Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Camps with Meaning ministry.

Cornelsen was also chosen by his Class of 2016 classmates to be their valedictorian.

Cornelsen says it is the “threads of hospitality” and graciousness that ran through his time at CMU that stick out the most when he looks back on the last five years.

He recalls a powerful moment he experienced as a first-year student during a foot washing ceremony in a chapel service.

“My choir conductor washed my feet,” Cornelsen says. “I thought it was remarkable that someone with that much authority showed that hospitality and Christian service to (a) lowly first-year.”

For Bergen, highlights of studying at CMU included growing deeper in her faith and exploring her interests in ministry.

She points to touring through Alberta and Saskatchewan with the CMU Chamber Choir in spring 2015 as a highlight of her undergraduate experience. The tour stopped at churches where Bergen knows many people.

“It was really exciting to sing for those people who love me and know me and support me, and to share with them in that way a big part of what I’ve been doing at CMU,” Bergen says.

Now that graduating is over, Bergen has moved back to Edmonton. She will begin studying for her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at the University of Alberta in September 2017.

“I’ve always been really interested in the way the human body works, particularly how it heals,” Bergen says. “Being an occupational therapist will allow me to build relationships with the people I work with and use my creativity to problem-solve.”

Cornelsen will spend the coming year living with his 97-year-old grandfather in Vancouver, BC, where he will serve as his grandfather’s caregiver.

“It’s another one of those things that makes perfect sense to me now, but if I hadn’t gone to CMU, I’m not sure if I’d be that interested in doing it,” Cornelsen says. “I’m really hoping I learn a lot and come away from it somehow changed.”

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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With Gratitude 2016 | Katrina Woelk (video)

Katrina WoelkThis video features Katrina Woelk (CMU ’16) at With Gratitude, April 23, 2016.

Katrina Woelk
Bachelor of Arts, 3 year
Major: Social Science; Minor: Biblical and Theological Studies

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.

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With Gratitude 2016 | Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck (video)

Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck, Samantha KlassenThis video features Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck (CMU ’16) performing Silent Noon (Ralph Vaughan Williams) accompanied by Samantha Klassen at With Gratitude, April 23, 2016.

Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck, tenor
Bachelor of Music
Concentration: Vocal performance

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.

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With Gratitude 2016 | Beth Downey Sawatzky (video)

Beth Downey SawatzkyThis video features Beth Downey Sawatzky (CMU ’16) at With Gratitude, April 23, 2016.

Beth Downey Sawatzky
Bachelor of Arts, 4 year
Major: English; Minors: Music, Biblical and Theological Studies

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.

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With Gratitude 2016 | Nonsi Sibanda (video)

Nonsi SibandaThis video features Nonsi Sibanda (CMU ’16) at With Gratitude, April 23, 2016.

Nonsi Sibanda
Bachelor of Business Administration
Major: Business Management

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.

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With Gratitude 2016 | Bethany Daman (video)

Bethany DamanThis video features Bethany Daman (CMU ’16) at With Gratitude, April 23, 2016.

Bethany Daman
Bachelor of Arts, 3 year
Major: Communications and Media; Minor: Biblical and Theological Studies

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.

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With Gratitude 2016 | Simon Dueck (video)

Simon DueckThis video features Simon Dueck (CMU ’16) at With Gratitude, April 23, 2016.

Simon Dueck
Bachelor of Arts, 4 Year
Major: Arts and Science; Concentrations: Biochemistry; International Development Studies

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.

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With Gratitude 2016 | Rebecca Longhurst (video)

Rebecca LonghurstThis video features Rebecca Longhurst (CMU ’16) at With Gratitude, April 23, 2016.

Rebecca Longhurst
Bachelor of Arts, 4 Year
Majors: Psychology; Minors: Biblical and Theological Studies, English

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.

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CMU 2016 Graduation Service | April 24, 2016 (video)

CMU’s 2016 graduation service culminated with President Dr. Cheryl Pauls conferring 84 undergraduate degrees, four Master of Arts degrees, and one graduate certificate in Biblical and Theological Studies.

Order of Events:

  • Processional | from Sonate Da Camera Op.4 – Arcangelo Corelli
  • Welcome
  • Congregational Song | For the beauty of the earth
  • Valedictory address | Jonas Cornelson
  • CMU Singers | The Roof – Andrea Ramsey
  • Scripture reading | Matthew 9:9-12
  • Graduation address | The Door of Mercy– Sister Lesley Sacouman
  • Congregational song | Rain Down
  • Conferral of Degrees | Dr. Wesley Toews, Dr. Gordon Zerbe, Dr. Cherly Pauls, Dr. Bruce Guenther
  • President’s Medals
  • Prayer for Graduates | Dr. Sheila Klassen-Wiebe
  • CMU Singers | Sanctus, Benedictus – Kristina Vasilauskaite
  • Offering | Mr. Terry Schellenberg
  • CMU Handbell Ensemble | Toccaa on King’s Weston – Ralph Vaughan Williams, arr. Matthew Compton
  • Benediction | Benediction at God’s Acre – Gwyneth Walker
  • Recessional | from Sonate da Camera Op.4 – Arcangelo Corelli

Image gallery from the weekend’s events here.

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Events General News News Releases

Canadian Mennonite University Celebrates Class of 2016

Eighty-nine graduates honoured during university’s annual commencement exercises

“What are you going to do with your degree?” is a question all university graduates are familiar with. Jonas Cornelsen tackled the query head on during his valedictory address at Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) graduation service.

“I believe the opportunities we have had to sit in class or outside of class and wrestle with deep, complex questions about life, about faith, and about the world have… enhanced also our capacity to love each other, to love God, and to love all of creation more deeply,” Cornelsen (BA, Four-Year, Political Studies, Communications and Media) said during the service, held on Sunday afternoon, April 24 at Immanuel Pentecostal Church.

During the address, Cornelsen meditated on the Class of 2016’s graduation verse, Philippians 1:9: “And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight.”

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Jonas Cornelsen, Valedictorian for CMU’s class of 2016

“Education is a great gift and we can all respond in gratitude by humbly sharing the knowledge and insight we have gained and (received) from others, by showing love to all of those we meet, living by the Creator’s grace, Christ’s example, and the Spirit’s hope in a broken world,” Cornelsen concluded. “That is what you can really do with a degree.”

It was an eloquent, hope-filled message delivered toward the end of a weekend filled with reflection, laughter, and tears as graduates and families enjoyed stories, songs, presentations, and meals along with CMU faculty, staff, and current students.

The graduation service culminated with CMU President Dr. Cheryl Pauls conferring 84 undergraduate degrees, four Master of Arts degrees, and one graduate certificate in Biblical and Theological Studies.

“On this day of celebration, we collectively honour work well done by 89 fine men and women,” Pauls said before addressing the graduates directly: “We as faculty and staff draw courage in the generosity of being that shapes your faith, your character, your tangible skills, and your vibrant imagination.”

CMU President Pauls (centre) with 2016 President Medal winners Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelson
CMU President Pauls (centre) with 2016 President Medal winners Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelsen

Pauls awarded President’s Medals to Cornelsen and Kathleen Bergen (BA, Four-Year, Biblical and Theological Studies) in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.

Earlier in the service, Sister Lesley Sacouman delivered the graduation address.

Sacouman, who co-founded Winnipeg’s Rossbrook House, which has provided a safe haven for tens of thousands of children, and who currently works with newcomers to Canada, urged listeners to consider the question: “Where for you does your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet?”

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Sister Sister Lesley Sacouman, who co-founded Winnipeg’s Rossbrook House, challenged the graduates to provide “compassionate and principled leadership” in her address

“Graduates, the world needs you. The world needs compassionate and principled leadership,” she said. “May God’s merciful gaze embolden you to walk through the door of mercy and embrace the…suffering Christ in your midst.”

At With Gratitude, a CMU graduation weekend event at which graduates share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance, Beth Downey Sawatzky (BA, Four-Year, English) reflected on how the faculty, staff, and students at CMU have cultivated “an institutional culture of kindness rather than one of prestige or competition.”

“If I have learned anything at CMU that will stay with me no matter what the future holds, it’s that if we as Christians truly believe what we claim to believe, we can always afford to be kind,” she said. “I hope whatever I become—professor, priest, mother, all or none of the above—I hope whatever I become that I will be rebelliously kind; that I will be as rebelliously courageous as my mentors of the last five years have been.”

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CMU’s class of 2016

Speaking at the same event, Nonsi Sibanda (BBA, Business Management) shared how she was fortunate to move from Zimbabwe to study at CMU.

“I got an opportunity to grow in a place where my career options are not limited (and) where there is hope for a bright future,” Sibanda said.

She added that prior to coming to CMU, she understood business and Christianity as two separate domains with no connections. Studying at CMU’s Redekop School of Business showed her otherwise.

“Business for me is not about the love of numbers anymore,” Sibanda said. “It is about the joy I have in my heart to serve others in an honest and in a diligent way.”

The Graduation Service and With Gratitude presentation were part of a number of events that occurred during graduation weekend, including a gala dinner on Friday, April 22, Spring Concert on Saturday, April 23, and Baccalaureate Service the morning of April 24.

Image gallery from the weekend’s events here.

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