April 9, 2019

What are you grateful for?

For UCalgary’s recent Thank-a-thon, we called on students to share their moments of gratitude: Hundreds responded

Google the benefits of practising gratitude and thousands of articles will pop up extolling such virtues as increased patience, improved relationships, better self-care, superior sleep — the list is endless.

Last week, we witnessed extraordinary gratitude, student-style, at three separate events that were part of UCalgary’s Thank-a-thon. Here’s how it worked: At each venue — the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL), Mac Hall and the Health Research Innovation Centre (HRIC) — students found a variety of ways to stop and give a special thanks to our donors. Stacks of postcards, a giant “cause map” and a Plexiglas photo booth were just a few of the props used to ignite conversations about gratitude and philanthropy.

Pictured above are Kendall McKenzie, Helen Dunlop and Jennifer Moen from the Haskayne School of Business showing what they're grateful for.

Kneeling down at a table full of thank-you postcards in TFDL, a thoughtful Noah Toppings (a third-year biology student) wrote: “Thank you for investing in student scholarships. This has, personally, had a huge impact on me.”

Winning a scholarship for each year of his studies has allowed the 4.0-GPA student to stay laser-focused on his course load; otherwise, he says, “I would have had to work part-time or take two summer jobs instead of one . . . just to make ends meet. I am very grateful that someone has invested in my schooling — it actually motivates me to study harder."

On March 29, faculties and volunteers from Development and Alumni Engagement set out to place tags across main campus, foothills and downtown campus. Students responded with enthusiasm.

Faculties and volunteers from Development and Alumni Engagement set out to place tags across campus.

Shayenne Selleck, Development and Alumni Engagement

Before the Thank-a-thon, 1,000 red tags were hung around campus, alerting passersby to the impact our donors make. From the learning spaces within the buildings that hosted the events to student scholarships, Study Abroad opportunities and research grants as well as sports teams, campus clubs, and brain and mental health initiatives — donations are what boost (no, make that create) so many of these programs. 

Two second-year engineering students seemed totally plugged into what philanthropy fuels at UCalgary.

Like Toppings, Gibran Hnidi is thankful for the scholarships he’s won, explaining that they not only motivate him, but they act as “a reassurance . . . that I am getting this, that I will understand this if I just stick with it. Plus, I am so thankful that I won’t graduate with a crushing debt load.” 

For Damola Korodele, also in his second year at the Schulich School of Engineering, the benefits of philanthropy can be seen in “Schulich’s new collaborative spaces, the new lab equipment and excellent professors . . . it all adds up to a better teaching and learning environment.” 

Volunteer Hafsa Gora set up shop in the Taylor Family Digital Library.

Volunteer Hafsa Gora set up shop in the Taylor Family Digital Library.

Victoria Szakaly, Development and Alumni Engagement

“It’s great to see our students saying thank you to our donors with such enthusiasm and genuine appreciation,” says Michael Sclafani, associate vice-president of alumni engagement and partnerships. “Our students and donors have a great deal in common. They are both investing in our university and aligning their time and resources with us because they believe in our ability to build a better tomorrow.”

Our upcoming Giving Day is another example of a purpose-led initiative. We hope to inspire philanthropy in students, staff, faculty, researchers, alumni and anyone else who finds meaning in the education and research that the University of Calgary provides.

Although the official 24-hour day of giving isn’t until April 25, all donations this month can be directed toward Giving Day. Get in on the early-bird deal to see your contribution doubled (gifts up to $2,500 will be matched), while funds last.

Don’t delay — give now