Canadian Mennonite University recognized the accomplishments of the Class of 2017 during graduation weekend, held Apr. 21–Apr. 23, 2017, a time filled with reflection, laughter and tears.
The weekend culminated with CMU president Dr. Cheryl Pauls conferring 70 undergraduate degrees, seven graduate degrees, one undergraduate certificate, and three graduate certificates, at the graduation service held at Immanuel Pentecostal Church, Winnipeg, Apr. 23.
“All of us, your teachers, are grateful to you graduands for opening our eyes to new ways of seeing, hearing, and reflecting,” Pauls said. “May the wonder of God’s love ever inspire the vocation of your hearts, hands, and minds as you move from this place.”
Pauls conferred two degrees for the first time ever: Anika Reynar became the first student to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (Four-Year) in interdisciplinary studies; and Michael Duerksen and Wesley Ngwenya became the first students to graduate from CMU’s collaborative Master of Business Administration program.
Pauls awarded President’s Medals to Reynar and Nicholas Czehryn (BA, Four-Year, Psychology) in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.
Earlier in the service, Reynar delivered the valedictory address, based on the graduation verse from Proverbs 24:13-14: “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Reynar said that at CMU, she and her peers were encouraged to learn, think, question and love, especially in those times when they felt lost, overwhelmed and disoriented.
“Recognize that who you are and who you have become during your time at CMU is a gift from your friends, mentors, family members, and church community that surround you,” Reynar told her fellow graduates.
“Wherever you find yourself next, carry this place and these people with you,” she added.
“When you are lost and overwhelmed, remember to take risks and to start learning, questioning, and loving. Ask for help connected to the community and place where you are; then you will continue to find the sweetness of friendship and to be surprised by the gift of wisdom.”
After Reynar spoke, Adrian Jacobs delivered the graduation address, titled, “Who Are You in a Kairos Moment?”
Jacobs, who is Keeper of the Circle at Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, an Aboriginal theological and ministry training program of the United Church of Canada in Beausejour, Man., pointed out that in 2017, Protestants are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and Canadians are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
These are potentially kairos moments, Jacobs said: moments in which God is speaking in some way.
“Keeping up to date in your understanding of the times in which you live, and knowing for sure what God wants you to do, is key to fulfilling Creator’s purpose in your life,” Jacobs said, later challenging the graduates to live with integrity, working for peace and justice.
“Graduates of Canadian Mennonite University, who are you in this kairos moment of 2017?” Jacobs asked at the end of his address.
At With Gratitude, a CMU graduation weekend event at which graduates share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance, Hannah Stoesz (BA, Four-Year, Social Science – Counselling Studies) reflected on how CMU is an encouraging place where students can safely share their dreams, doubts, and goals.
“The things I have learned, and the people I have encountered at CMU, have helped me grow…and have given me a solid base from which I’m already beginning to interact with and find my place outside of CMU,” Stoesz said. “I will always be grateful for me time here.”
Speaking at the same event, Meara Sparling (BMus, concentration: music education—early/middle years) reflected on how much she has grown over the past four years.
“I was pushed out of my comfort zone over and over, and presented with opportunities I don’t believe I could find anywhere else,” she said.
At CMU, Sparling was encouraged to take on leadership roles in her church. The musical ideas and techniques she learned at CMU helped her as she led choirs and worship.
“I will be eternally grateful for the four years I’ve gotten to spend here,” Sparking said. “I know I will miss walking these halls.”
The Graduation Service and With Gratitude presentation were part of a number of events that occurred during graduation weekend, including a gala dinner Apr. 21, Spring Concert Apr. 22, and a Baccalaureate Service the morning of Apr. 23.