CMU announces 2021 Leadership Scholarship recipients

David Nelson, Mia Loeppky, Matthew Pahl, and Eleanor Reimer are awarded this year's endowments: $3,500 annually up to four years, to a maximum value of $14,000 each.

CMU takes great pride in announcing the four winners of this year's Leadership Scholarships: David Nelson of Winnipeg, MB (Westgate Mennonite Collegiate); Mia Loeppky of Selkirk, MB (Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School); Matthew Pahl of Morden, MB (Morden Collegiate Institute); and Eleanor Reimer of Winnipeg, MB (Sisler High School) are the winners of up to $14,000 each.

CMU's Leadership Scholarships are awarded annually to recent high school graduates who, in addition to meeting CMU's entrance requirements, demonstrate significant leadership ability, academic excellence, personal character, commitment to service, and vision.

These scholarships are competitive, and applicants are required to provide a detailed resumé of their leadership involvement, along with two letters of recommendation, and an essay reflecting on what leadership means to them. Many students choose to write about other leaders who have inspired them. This year, students brought a wealth of perspectives to bear on the question, promising a new generation of servant leaders with truly global mindsets—leaders who are also listeners.

Congratulations to all four winners.

David Nelson

David Nelson, reflecting on his own experience as a camp counsellor at Camps with Meaning, Fort Whyte Alive, and Vacation Bible School, emphasizes the importance of relationship and connection in leadership roles. Through working in Mennonite environments, Nelson has learned conflict resolution and the value of peacebuilding in contexts such as sport team meetings, music groups, and camp activities.

In Nelson's essay, he writes that many people have been conditioned to choose the safest path and to follow the choices of others. He writes that "these fears have been developed through long-term classical conditioning. As humans, we have been conditioned to avoid the unknown throughout history." As a solution to this classical conditioning, Nelson suggests—following the ideas of social psychologist Zick Rubin—that the use of "modelling behaviour" can counteract the fear of the unknown. For Nelson, a leader is able to demonstrate "the very action that others are conditioned to fear."

Ruminating on the current "call-out culture," in which "it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the line between having grace towards others and holding them accountable," Loeppky suggests that leadership requires a unity that "should not tear someone down to assert dominance."

Mia Loeppky

For Mia Loeppky, leadership begins by identifying the root causes of societal issues, a practice that inevitably requires empathy. Inspired by the work of Paul Chappell, founder of Peace Literacy, a program for students and adults whose curriculum focuses on peace-based leadership training, Loeppky shares characteristics of her ideal leaders including open-mindedness, optimism, and the desire to generate change.

Loeppky's views on leadership have inspired her in her involvement with Best Buddies, a program that builds friendships between those with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is looking forward to pursuing leadership volunteer roles at CMU.


Matthew Pahl

Matthew Pahl, by drawing on the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Barack Obama, writes that the most important purpose of leadership is "to inspire people." Pahl writes that the onus on current leaders lies in the pressure on them to maintain happiness when conflict arises. Making divisive decisions can be tough, but Pahl suggests that leadership must involve a level of nuance in which to discern the best course of action.

Pahl looks forward to "being at CMU where I can explore these questions with people who have a variety of perspectives on faith." Having led in camp, sports, and music environments, Pahl is looking forward to new opportunities for leadership at CMU.


Eleanor Reimer

Eleanor Reimer's essay focuses on her own lived experiences of leadership as viewed through the lens of "grit," a term described in the work of psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth. Grit, according to Reimer, is the primary pillar of leadership, and is defined by Duckworth as "passion and perseverance for very long-term goals." When Reimer was diagnosed with severe asthma in 2017, she was compelled to give up competitive swimming. In her essay, she writes about the grit that she needed in order to join a track and cross-country team, with whom she continually runs almost every day.

In addition to grit, Reimer asserts that a leader needs vulnerability. Before the pandemic, Reimer was a swim instructor at Swimmingly Manitoba where she taught a six-year-old boy with a seizure disorder and impaired vision how to swim. She writes of her experience: "for the first few weeks we just floated around in the shallow end, talking about whatever he wanted...Slowly, he started to hold on to his pool noodle instead of me, and by the end of our ten-week session together, he was able to float on his front and back with little help from me." In addition to her work as a swim instructor, Reimer has also worked at Able Sail Manitoba as a sailing instructor for people with disabilities. She looks forward to studying Pre-Medicine at CMU and for the opportunity to improve her leadership qualities.

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