Student Profiles

CMU students contribute to play about conscientious objectors’ experiences

Three Canadian Mennonite University students are conducting research and assisting in the development of the upcoming Theatre of the Beat (TOTB) play, Yellow Bellies.

“TOTB creates thought-provoking and socially relevant theatre to raise awareness of or get people thinking about social justice issues,” says Rebecca Steiner, TOTB General Director and Recruitment Coordinator at CMU. “This play will highlight the often forgotten stories of conscientious objectors during World War 2 and their contributions to Canada’s development.”

Jonas Cornelsen, Kayla Drudge, and Nadya Langelotz are researching the stories of conscientious objectors (COs) during the Second World War by reading archived material and conducting interviews to gather information about the time period. Their research is contributing to the play’s development.

“The students’ task is to research and share with us the interesting narratives, characters, and conflicts they find and help us think of how we can dramatize them,” says Steiner.

For Drudge and Langelotz, their research and work on the play is a part of their practica, which they are completing through the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives (MHCA). Additionally they are writing articles for the MHCA blog and transcribing archived video interviews. Cornelsen is assisting with conducting interviews and is recording them on video or audio as applicable.

The interviews include questions such as: why did you decide to become a CO? Did your church support you? If you went before a judge, what was your experience like? What was your experience like in the CO camp? How did this experience shape your life?

Part of Drudge’s research focuses on music that was popular in CO camps.

“Guys would sing in a cappella, barbershop-like groups,” says Drudge, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Music. “They would develop groups in CO camps, practice regularly, and go out to churches in the area to sing.”

The play will incorporate live music with a gospel-bluegrass style similar to music common to this period. It will also feature a medley Drudge composed that includes O Canada and I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go, a hymn sung by some COs when homesick. The medley will be used to transition between a scene that reflects the experience of appearing before a judge to advocate for CO status and a scene in a CO camp.

Langelotz, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts, is working on one of the scenes and has enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with TOTB on the play’s development. The students have had opportunities to read the play as it’s being developed and offer feedback on scene order and content.

“The play uses historically accurate info and stories but if we have a character in mind with a specific trait, we can put that in,” says Langelotz. “We’re adding our own creative flair. It’s so neat to read it.”

Her research has uncovered a wide range of experiences that COs had.

“There’s huge varieties of different experiences—some had a great time and their time in court was easy to get CO status,” says Langelotz. “Other stories were horrible—sent to prison—standing up for what they believed in but not getting status.”

Langelotz says that those they’ve interviewed have expressed appreciation for the interest in their stories.


Interplay workshop offers opportunity for composers to hear scores come to life

Three CMU students and one alumnus recently had a unique opportunity to receive professional feedback on their scores from the Vancouver Chamber Choir and conductor Jon Washburn.

03-09-2016 Interplay workshop 1At the Interplay workshop on February 20, CMU students Mark Holmes a Court, Dominique Lemoine, Tirzah Lyons, and alumnus Jesse Krause (CMU ’10), heard their scores come alive as they were sight read by the choir. Their scores were chosen from among those submitted in response to an open call for compositions.

Interplay is an opportunity for Canadian composers who write for chorus to workshop their in-progress or recently completed choral works with Jon Washburn and the twenty-member Vancouver Chamber Choir.

“It was an amazing opportunity to receive such valuable feedback and to hear my piece being performed by a professional, talented choir. I was able to get a sense of what worked and what didn’t,” says Lemoine. “Being immersed in the choral workshop environment gave me a better understanding of choral music. In addition, all of the gorgeous tones coming from the choir as they performed the various pieces in the workshop inspired me to want to produce more music for choirs.”

Each composer was allotted individual rehearsal time of approximately half an hour and the composers received comments and suggestions from Washburn and choir members. CMU music instructors Neil Weisensel and Randolph Peters were in attendance at the workshop.

“CMU is a place where choral music and singing is taken seriously. It’s nice to get a professional perspective as well—a professional critique will both appreciate beautiful things and good things the student has written and can also provide critique on page, notation, and stylistic elements,” says Peters.

Feedback provided in these workshops may focus on the score’s musical and technical features, pitch selection, strengths, flaws, textures, colours, presentation on the page, and notations, among other aspects of choral writing.

“It was great to hear my piece sung by a professional choir and to work with Jon Washburn, who has a lot of experience in conducting new music. Some of my compositional choices were confirmed and others were challenged, both of which will help me improve future compositions,” says Lyons. “I wish more people had attended, as I feel there was something for everyone to learn. I hope I have the opportunity to be a part of something like this again.”

Articles Student Profiles

Applying business principles in the non-profit sector

Katie DamanKatie Daman had the opportunity to apply business skills in a non-profit setting during her practicum with Canadian Mennonite University (CMU).

Daman, who graduated from CMU’s Redekop School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration in April 2015, completed her practicum at WestEnd Commons (WEC), a social enterprise in Winnipeg’s West End community.

Social enterprises are “not-for-profits that use business means to fulfill their mission,” explains Daman. WEC is home to the Neighbourhood Resource Centre, a social enterprise that “provides safe and affordable programming as well as meeting and office space for neighbourhood families and organizations in West Central Winnipeg.”

The social enterprise model adopted by WEC includes renting out spaces in the building including a commercial kitchen, assembly hall, and meeting and office space. The income generated from the rentals is invested in community programming.

Daman utilized her business education to help WEC further their transition into a social enterprise. Her main role was social media coordinator. She maintained WEC’s social media presence by posting articles that featured WEC, sharing content relevant to WEC’s mission, and connecting with organizations that support WEC.

“Social media is really important to not only create awareness of your organization’s existence, but also to help people remain aware about what your organization does on a day-to-day basis,” says Daman.

Additionally, Daman provided input into marketing plans and strategies, which she says is one way her practicum connected directly with her studies. The courses she’s taken have equipped her with the skills to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy, which centres on an organization’s mission and vision.

“Mission and vision are crucial to an organization internally and externally,” says Daman. “Internally you want to rally around a common purpose and goal. You need a common understanding so you can achieve it. Externally, you want people to buy into your purpose as well.”

Daman believes a social enterprise model can benefit non-profits and sees potential for non-profits to apply business principles in a way that helps them achieve their goals.

“A lot of non-profits are moving toward a social enterprise model,” she says. “It’s important to have people working in non-profits who understand core business principles and can apply them to the greater good—understanding how the two can work together, instead of as opposites.”

After graduating, Daman would like to pursue work in the social enterprise or community economic development sector. She feels the BBA degree has equipped her well for work in those areas.

“For me, CMU played an important part in allowing me to explore some of my alternative passions and desires, while also giving me the necessary business acumen to go out and work in the real world. If business is something that you’re interested in, whether it be traditional business or an alternative form, CMU should definitely be on your radar.”

Ellen Paulley is a Writer and Social Media Coordinator at Canadian Mennonite University

Click here to learn more about the Redekop School of Business

Student Profiles

Practicum an interface between education and experience

Marc RegierCMU student Marc Regier encourages his fellow students to make the  most of their practicum experiences.

“Give it your all, give it your best,” he says. “You’ll learn about your own capacity in doing so.”

A Biblical and Theological Studies major and an International Development Studies (IDS) minor, Regier is completing his practicum at the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) in Winnipeg, which takes on test cases for public interest groups and low-income individuals.

In his role at PILC, Regier says he has been “exposed to a whole range of responsibilities that a non-practicing lawyer could be exposed to at a law centre.” This includes compiling evidence, creating research reports and memos, meeting with clients, attending and documenting hearings, and “reading thousands of pages of material.”

As a child, Regier had a vision of being a lawyer, an interest his practicum reignited. He explains that through his longstanding focus on the legal implications of the Bible, he’s developed an idea of what legal practice is—something he’d like to “push into the secular world and test out.

Regier came to CMU seeking a rigorous approach to biblical studies and says he’s “honed an understanding of the historical, scientific merits of the Bible,” which has served to bring him closer to the Bible.

His practicum has been going “phenomenally well” and Regier has seen some of the IDS theories he’s learned being put into practice.

“The Public Interest Law Centre basically starts with the same worldview as IDS,” he says. “You measure what those who are marginalized need or want, bring that into the legal realm, and represent that among the big actors.”

Regier’s been inspired by the ways the lawyers at PILC work, saying there’s no end to the research they undertake and that they try to expose themselves to everything that’s been written on a topic. “It reflects competence and the desire to produce good work,” he says.

For those who are beginning a practicum, Regier offers this advice: “Respect and be a blessing to the people who have agreed to train you. Regularly and peaceably recognize when they are there and thank them.”

CMU believes experience-based education has great learning potential and as such, requires all Bachelor of Arts students to complete a practicum. The practicum complements classroom education by having students spend a significant amount of time in an off-campus placement.

Regier, who plans to attend law school after graduation, encourages students to complete their practicum near the end of their degree.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to end my education,” he says. “It’s the interface between education and experience.”

Ellen Paulley, Writer & Social Media Coordinator at Canadian Mennonite University

Learn more about CMU’s practicum program

Student Profiles

Play Therapy in Practice

Becky LonghurstCanadian Mennonite University (CMU) psychology student Becky Longhurst wants to work “all day, every day” in the field of play therapy.

The fourth year student had an opportunity to gain practical experience with play therapy during her nine-month practicum placement with Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago.

Play therapy involves watching the interactions children create between toys, which can be reflective of a child’s emotions and relationships, says Longhurst. Play therapy can be especially useful for children who aren’t yet able to express themselves verbally.

“We step back and observe and imagine what the interactions might mean for where children are at,” says Longhurst. “It’s a cool thing to see how they interact with other children before and after. It was rewarding to be a part of it.”

Erie Neighbourhood House’s mission is “to promote a just and inclusive society by strengthening low-income, primarily Latino families through skill-building, access to critical resources, advocacy and collaborative action.” One of the ways they do this is by partnering with graduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago to offer a play therapy program for preschool children ages 2-5. Longhurst assisted teachers as needed and observed the play therapy process. She also spent part of her practicum as an assistant teacher.

Longhurst says she was able to see the theories she’s studied in the classroom be put into practice at Erie Neighbourhood House.

“As a student, the practicum instilled in me this was important work and it does make a difference,” she says. “I have more energy behind my education now because I’ve seen what it can do. It makes me want to develop more because I’ve seen that it really works.”

At the same time, Longhurst says the placement wasn’t without its struggle. “Kids are my happy place,” she says. “Can I get into a profession that might open me up to their suffering and pain?”

It was hard to see children experiencing some of what she’s studied but seeing the progress children made as a result of therapy helped Longhurst stay motivated in her work.

The challenge was one aspect of what made the practicum so valuable for Longhurst. By having the opportunity to experience and practice what is studied in the classroom, she says the practicum is a way for students to know what they may experience in their career.

“I’m a full enthusiast in putting academic and experiential learning together,” she says. “One of the most important things a student can do is to get out there, to go and see for themselves instead of people just telling them what it is.”

Each of CMU’s Bachelor of Arts programs has a practicum component, allowing students to gain hands on experience in their program.

Longhurst says the practicum experience made her feel more confident in her choice of a psychology major and that she feels “more comfortable in graduating with it.”

As for what’s next, Longhurst expects she’ll pursue a master’s degree with the ultimate goal of working in play therapy.

“Anything that lets me work with kids until I get there is fine—whatever leads me there is going to be great,” she says.

Ellen Paulley, Writer and Social Media Coordinator at CMU

Learn more about CMU’s practicum program

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles – Alexandria Eikelboom (CMU ’11)

For alumna Alexandria Eikelboom (CMU ’11), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, Psychology Major, is only one step in her scholastic journey. Her next step takes her to Oxford University in the United Kingdom in fall 2011, where she will study for a Master of Arts in Theology degree.

Eikelboom grew up in the Netherlands, an hour North of Amsterdam, and has dual German and Canadian citizenship, making her a truly international student.

Eikelboom is excited for the vast resources that will be at her fingertips at Oxford.

“One of the nice things about a school like Oxford is that it’s so big and old that the resources available are huge – with the books, the people, and the history.”

Her one-year Master’s program will involve a great deal of independent study but also working alongside faculty. She feels that CMU has equipped her to work well independently and thus to succeed in graduate school.

“At CMU, the faculty to student ratio is good. It helps people to prepare for graduate school… People have pushed me to grow and do new things.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to study God in the academic world,” she says.

Eikelboom plans on pursuing a PhD after she completes her degree at Oxford.

Text by Rachel Bergen (CMU ’11)


Scholar Students at CMU

In June 2011, nine female graduate students from Iran took a summer course on Christian Understanding of Peace and Justice at CMU. The students were in Winnipeg for an academic conference bringing together Mennonite scholars from North America and Shi’a Muslim scholars from Iran.

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The student scholars, who participated in the 2011 interfaith conference as observers, remained afterwards for a special five-day course, held June 6 – 10, presented by Irma Fast Dueck, associate professor of Practical Theology, Sheila Klassen-Wiebe, associate professor of New Testament, and other faculty members.

“The inclusion of Iranian women at the conference, and the opportunity afterwards for study, was exciting for us,” says Fast Dueck, who along with Klassen-Wiebe developed academic and personal friendships with CMU’s academic guests.

Among those taking the CMU course was Maryam Esmaeili, who teaches history of Islam and the interpretation of the Quran at the al-Zahra University, an Islamic university for women in Qom that has 15,000 full-time and correspondence students. She believes interfaith conversations and interactions can improve relationships between Muslims and Christians.

“If I don’t speak with you, my judgment about you might be wrong,” she said. “When we sit around the table and talk, my judgment about you is correct because I understand you and you understand me.”* (*excerpt from CMU/MCC news release)  The course work led to reflection and opportunities for meaningful dialogue on similarities and differences in faith traditions and cultures.

“We hope to continue this important process of listening and learning from one another at future conferences,” says Klassen-Wiebe, who expressed her appreciation for the rich daily prayer life of the student scholars.


Alumni Profiles – Shota Yoda (CMU ’11)

Shota Yoda (CMU ’11, BA, PACTS Major)

Japan-native Shota Yoda came to CMU in early 2008 with a desire to study peacebuilding from a biblical perspective; after graduating from CMU in 2011, he begins graduate studies with an ignited passion and a clear sense of direction and purpose.

“My studies at CMU enabled me to look at pursuing peace and justice as compatible with God’s vision of the gospel of his kingdom,” says Yoda, who graduated in April with a four-year Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies (PACTS), after first becoming interested through a peace and conflict-related course that he took at Langara College, Vancouver.

“CMU also helped me discover my passion for working with peace and justice issues in Asia-Pacific,” says Yoda.

Further, CMU inspired Yoda, who completed his PACTS practicum in Guatemala, to continue learning; as of fall 2011 he is a student in the new joint Master’s program in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba and The University of Winnipeg.

“My interest in this program is peacebuilding through the church in Asian contexts,” says Yoda. “It also offers the opportunity to learn about human rights issues, which are very pressing in Asia.”

After completing his Master’s degree, Yoda plans to bring his passion, knowledge, and experience back to Japan, where he hopes to partner with organizations in addressing the many complex issues of peace and justice, such as poverty, violence, human rights, oppression, human trafficking, child labour, and arms trade.

“I share the burden to use what I am given to contribute to efforts to stop violence and establish safe and loving communities together with people in my region,” he says. “My future long-term goal is to establish a ministry that bridges Japan and other countries to work together to tackle the issues of peace, justice, and conflict, and to build communities based on the gospel Jesus Christ preached.”

Articles Graduates 2011 Video

Alumni Profiles – Rebecca Reesor (CMU ’11)


This video features Rebecca Reesor (CMU ’11) at In Gratitude, April 16, 2011, 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.

Rebecca Reesor, piano
Scarbo fromGaspard de la Nuit, Maurice Ravel
Bachelor of Music, Concentrations: Performance, Music Ministry

Video Production: Laura Tait, CMU Communications & Media Student (2011)

Articles Graduates 2011

Alumni Profiles – Christy Anderson (CMU ’11)


This video features Christy Anderson at In Gratitude, April 16, 2011, a graduation weekend event that celebrates CMU graduates by inviting class members to share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff.

Christy Anderson
Bachelor of Arts, 4 year, Major: Communications and Media

Video Production: Laura Tait, Communications & Media Student (2011)