Pride inspires alumna's donor spirit

When Shabana Manji (BA ’11) was ready to go to university, she knew exactly where she wanted to study. She applied only to the University of Lethbridge – a gamble that Manji might not have taken, were it not for the strong first impression she had of the U of L after attending a recruitment presentation and taking a campus tour.

Shabana Manji worked briefly in the U of L Call Centre, where she made calls to alumni and donors – jobs that infused her with passion for the school.

“I was really impressed,” says Manji. “Choosing a university is an anxious time in anyone’s life. I got a lot of personalized attention from the recruitment officer. She was a U of L alumna too, and her enthusiasm for the University was contagious.”

Born and raised in Calgary, Manji liked the idea that her choice of university would allow her to move away from home and still make visits back easy. She settled into residence in 2006, and soon after began giving campus tours herself. She worked part time with the U of L recruitment team during her studies and worked briefly in the U of L Call Centre, where she made calls to alumni and donors – jobs that Manji says infused her with passion for the school.

“It sparked something in me larger than pride,” says Manji. “The work gave me tremendous knowledge about the U of L, and an appreciation for why financial donations are so important. The U of L excels on so many fronts. Financial donations keep things going and allow all the things that define the University to thrive.”

Manji graduated with a bachelor of arts in humanities in 2011, did post-secondary study at Royal Roads University, and eventually landed as a public affairs assistant for the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) in the summer of 2014. As one of more than 30 agencies worldwide, the AKFC (located in Ottawa) strives to improve living conditions for impoverished people around the globe, and addresses the social, economic and cultural elements of development.

“The work the AKFC does is inspiring in so many ways,” she says. “To be involved in humanitarian efforts around the globe is incredibly rewarding.”

In addition to doing support work for public engagements and public learning projects with AKFC, Manji plans and supports various events and conferences, including the Canadian Humanitarian Conference. Despite the fact that her career was just getting off the ground, Manji began making financial donations to U of L in 2013.

“The University of Lethbridge is a great school with even greater potential,” Manji says. “It invests in wonderful professors and researchers, the administrative staff is amazing, the programming, the clubs, the residences – all these things take money. If my donation helps a bit, I feel good about that.”

Manji feels that giving back to the U of L is something all alumni should consider, not only to benefit future generations of students, but also for the betterment of the U of L as a whole.

“Great universities have a great alumni body,” says Manji. “There are a lot of very successful U of L grads doing a lot of amazing things. If we all stood together, showed our pride and gave back a little, the effects would be huge.”