At the Smithers campus, there are a lot of things to smile about. From the beautiful mountain range hovering over the town to the warmth of the sun that fills the building through the large glass windows, and all the students making their dreams come true.
For Titi Kunkel, the Acting Vice President of Academic, Students and International at Smithers, it’s the best place in the world to be.
“The energy of the place, it’s very vibrant. Smithers is a very outdoor and close-knit community so they’re already buzzing from everything this town has to offer,” Kunkel says.
“When students come in, they’re super engaged and eager to participate in the classes, and all the interesting activities that our coordinators arrange.”
Kunkel says the Smithers campus is a blend of local, Indigenous and international students, who come to study from as far as India and the Philippines. For her, having students of different backgrounds learn about one another and create friendships is a valuable educational opportunity beyond the classroom.
“We really represent the community that we serve. In Smithers we have all these nations living here and that’s the tapestry of this town,” she says, adding she herself grew up in West Africa before moving to Canada.
“And the diversity of our staff matches the diversity of students... it’s just a wonderful atmosphere.”
When it comes to getting to know their students, Kunkel says everyone knows each other’s name. As it is a small campus, this allows students to have more one-on-one time with their instructors and the chance to create a better bond with their classmates.
“It all feels very personable here because you’re not just walking through a hallway of people — you’re amongst friends.”
Kunkel says Smithers is a very charming town that holds lots of festivals and art events, where many students take part of after class.
The big highlight of living in Smithers though, is the natural beauty of the place.
“There’s four seasons here to keep you engaged all year-long. We have hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, camping, and so on. There are just so many lakes and trails here, it’s unbelievable,” she says.
With the great outdoors, comes adventure and experiential place-based learning — which is the basis of CMTN’s educational approach.
“Whichever program that you’re a part of here, there are lots of pathways in our community and beyond for students to move up in their career by having this hands-on learning,” she says.
“This really is the place to be.”