Oct. 17, 2019

Why I’m an Ignitor: Giving back is part of campus circle of life

How one staff member is honouring the past and empowering the future
Student Grace Hudson, left, with Sabiha Zaman
Student Grace Hudson, left, with Sabiha Zaman.

According to one staff member, giving back is simply part of the circle of life for members of the UCalgary family.

Sabiha Zaman is a three-time alumna, instructor and staff member in the Master of Biomedical Technology (MBT) program and is also a proud UCalgary Ignitor. With a deep understanding of the impact that instructors and staff have on current students, Zaman directs her donations to the areas she is most passionate about.

“I have been part of the UCalgary family for the last 21 years. The university was my first home when I came to Calgary. I genuinely believe in the university’s mission and want to do everything I can to support student success, alumni engagement, and excellence in teaching and learning,” says Zaman, BSc’02, MBT’02, MSc’07.

  • Above, student Grace Hudson, left, with Sabiha Zaman. Advancement photo

Over the years, she has given back in myriad ways through donations, mentorship, curriculum development, and even in connecting alumni with one another or with community resources to help build success in their professional careers.

This commitment to supporting and connecting with students is something she shared with her colleague and mentor, Dr. Ron Mathison, BSc’74, PhD’78. In 2015, just as Zaman was beginning her maternity leave, Mathison (not to be confused with UCalgary donor Ronald P. Mathison) suddenly passed away.

Upon her return to work, she could sense the palpable loss of Mathison and his mentorship within the MBT program and wanted to find a way to honour him.

After taking some time to consider the idea of a scholarship, Zaman started the process of creating the Ron Mathison MBT Graduate Scholarship Endowment in 2017 with the help and advice of the UCalgary Development and Alumni Engagement team. Although it was challenging at first, she was able to build on her personal connection to Mathison, students, alumni and the broader community to quickly raise the initial amount needed to establish the award.

She was happy to see her vision realized, with the scholarship awarded to the first recipient in April 2019. Though creating and leading an endowment fund is something she never imagined she would accomplish, Zaman says it has been infinitely rewarding.

“Creating this scholarship endowment allowed me to fulfil several personal core values and goals,” she says. “It allowed me to honour a colleague and mentor while giving back to my alma mater. Most importantly, this endowment enables the business community, faculty and alumni to celebrate our students and future entrepreneurs.”

Campus Giving Recognition Week takes place Oct. 15 to 18. It’s our way of thanking the more than 3,000 Ignitors who are energizing positive change at UCalgary and in our community. Learn more.