Learn More About Our Interim Academic Dean, Buetta Warkentin

Tell us a bit about your background

I grew up in Southern Ontario and came to Winnipeg to do my undergrad at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, now CMU. I finished off a BA in psychology and religion and then I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I decided to do some voluntary service down in St. Louis, as a teacher’s aide, working with kids who were in the foster care system and were living in a residential treatment program. Out of that work, I decided to go back to Ontario to do a joint program at Wilfred Laurier where I was able to get a Master of Social Work with a Master of Theological Studies. Ultimately, I felt like social work was the right fit for me. I ended up being involved in child welfare work, I was a high school guidance counsellor for a while. Then I came back to Winnipeg and became involved again as a therapist with kids in care, kids at risk. Working with kids formed the backbone of what I did but I still had a bit of that “road not traveled” piece in terms of education and teaching. When the opportunity to come to Booth UC arose, I thought, ‘I can put all three of my interests together’ in terms of social work and educating social workers, as well as integrating the religious piece that was so important to me.

How do the students at Booth UC inspire you?

I think our students are amazing! I’m teaching an Intro to Social Work class right now and just seeing their engagement and interest in exploring what social work means, and their willingness to have conversations that can be challenging inspires me. When we think of Education for a Better World some of it is about taking a look at ourselves and how we interact in the world. In the Intro class, when I see my students thinking and questioning more about ‘am I a presence in the world in the way that I want to be?’, that also inspires me. Then, the other end of it is looking at our graduates and seeing their impact on the world, whether they are in social work or one of our other programs. Booth UC students make a huge impact in Winnipeg and the world, and it’s wonderful to see that. They bring their education to places that really makes a difference for those around them.

How does your teaching help Education for a Better World?

I think it’s the very practical things. Social work allows you to impact the world in practical ways. But I also think that Booth UC’s liberal arts program in general is something that makes a huge impact. We’re developing people to be well-read, critical thinkers, who can enter the world and ask questions and wonder why and build connections. Social work is one of those pieces that sometimes is more easily seen and understood as making a difference because that’s what it’s built to do. But all of our degree programs create people who are better able to engage in society in ways that allow them to not just rest on assumptions, but ask questions and think critically and push for changes within systems to make the world better for everybody.

 Outside of your work at Booth UC what are you interested in?

I enjoy sitting down with a good book. I joined a golf league this year. That’s been fun, a nice way to connect with people in the community. During the pandemic, I started knitting. That was significant for me. I haven’t don’t that since I was in college!


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