A historic example of support

Sheila McManus doesn't like to brag, but when it comes to supporting students, she and her department have every right to toot their own horn.

A professor in the Department of History at the University of Lethbridge, McManus is familiar with the financial struggles many students face.

"I was able to get my degrees with the help of student loans and jobs," she recalls. "The stress of working while going to school was a defining characteristic of all three of my degrees."

Despite facing those financial challenges as a student, McManus felt it was important to give back to her community.

"As broke as I was as a student, I was aware of how privileged I was in this world," she says. "I didn't have time to volunteer, but I thought I could find 10 dollars a month to contribute to causes I cared about."

Now that she is established in her career, McManus's philanthropic goals have grown.

"When I became a faculty member here, I felt it was time to take it up a notch and see how much I could contribute," she says. "It was the natural thing to do to start helping students here."

McManus became a donor and volunteer for the Supporting Our Students (SOS) campaign, an annual campaign that allows faculty and staff to contribute to scholarships and bursaries for students. McManus knows firsthand what this kind of support can mean for students.

"Any financial support we can get directly into students' hands means less stress, fewer hours working a part-time job and more time spent on being students and learning," she emphasizes.

Amazingly, McManus's entire department donates to SOS. In 2012, for the fourth year in a row, every member of the history department contributed to the campaign.

"This is a real point of pride for our department," says McManus. "No other department has hit 100 per cent participation four years in a row. We are so proud!"

McManus hopes her department's ongoing participation in SOS shows students how much they care. On an individual level, she is happy to help students who are working their way through the same struggles she faced.

"It's a fantastic feeling to be a part of this," she says. "I'm helping my students, I'm helping my university and I'm helping my community."

This story first appeared in the February 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.