Eighty-seven degrees, two certificates awarded during university’s annual commencement exercises
When Joseph Kiranto moved from Kenya to study at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to major in. Each class he attended piqued his interest.
“Before long, the list of what I wanted to do became unrealistic for me,” Kiranto said. “I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself if it were not for the help of… the faculty and staff.”
Kiranto told the story during his valedictory address at CMU’s graduation service, held on Sunday afternoon, April 26 at Immanuel Pentecostal Church. Kiranto (BA, Four-Year, Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies) was one of 89 students who graduated.
Referencing the Class of 2015’s graduation verse, James 3:17-18, Kiranto encouraged his fellow graduates to do the best they can in spite of the obstacles they might face.
“Here at CMU we have been challenged, we have been encouraged, we have been empowered, and we have been motivated,” Kiranto said. “I will do the best I can. Will you?”
It was an inspiring 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 Cheryl Pauls conferring 78 undergraduate degrees, nine Master of Arts degrees, and two graduate certificates in Christian Studies.
Pauls awarded President’s Medals to Mike Wiebe (BA, Four-Year, Communications and Media) and Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe (BMus, Concentration: Performance—Collaborative Piano) in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.
Earlier in the service, Rev. Dr. Hippolyto Tshimanga, a theologian and missiologist who works as the director of Mennonite Church Canada’s Africa, Europe, and Latin America Ministry, delivered the graduation address.
Tshimanga challenged graduates to face the obstacles they encounter with bravery.
“Believe in your God-given potential, believe in the education that you have received, and keep on moving,” Tshimanga said. “What you should have is unshakeable, unshakeable belief in what you are able to accomplish. Have the courage to act on your belief.”
At With Gratitude, a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance, Clare Schellenberg (BA, Four-Year, Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies) reflected on her time at CMU, which included an independent study course that involved hiking the Camino de Santiago, an 800-kilometre pilgrimage route in Spain.
Schellenberg said that her time at CMU altered her understanding of peace and justice, and highlighted for her the importance of relationships in navigating the conflicts people face.
“I am leaving with an imagination to reach out to those I fear, to touch the heart of complexity, to imagine beyond what is seen, to risk vulnerability one step at a time, and to open my mind and heart as big as an ocean,” Schellenberg said.
Speaking at the same event, Kathy McCamis (Master of Arts, Theological Studies) reflected on how the costs of doing a graduate degree seemed high when she resigned from her position as a youth pastor to pursue full-time ministry studies at CMU.
McCamis, who was one of four graduates who earned their MA from CMU in affiliation with Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, also realized she was studying for her MA at a time when many people question the value of a seminary education.
McCamis does not regret her decision, though.
“I graduate having been formed as a person who is growing in my ability to love God and to love my neighbour, as well as to love myself,” she said.
“That to me is the greatest gift of seminary education, and that is worth infinitely more to me than any of the costs that I’ve incurred along the 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 April 24, Spring Concert on April 25, and Baccalaureate Service the morning of April 26.