April 27, 2023

Giving Day support creates ‘carpe diem’ moments for UCalgary Law students

Faculty of Law Impact Fund enables extracurricular student experiences
Mirabelle Harris-Eze, BComm’19, will graduate with her JD in spring 2023
Mirabelle Harris-Eze, BComm’19, will graduate with her JD in spring 2023.

When asked about what sets UCalgary Law apart from other Canadian law schools, Dean Ian Holloway is quick to credit the Faculty of Law Impact Fund as part of their ‘secret sauce.’

“Our mission is to prepare students for the profession they’re joining, not the one I joined,” says Holloway, PhD, who has served as dean of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law since 2011.

“Part of that is being more consciously entrepreneurial, giving students access to extracurricular ‘carpe diem’ moments — like attending conferences and workshops. The Faculty of Law Impact Fund allows us to seize the day by providing funding for those opportunities. It’s a critical tool to achieving that mission.”

The fund is one being featured by the Faculty of Law during UCalgary Giving Day 2023, on now through April 27. Donor support — along with the flexibility that it offers — is key to its efficacy. Funds are distributed at the dean’s discretion, allowing him to be responsive and direct resources toward areas in most need and of the highest priority.

One such priority is bolstering the student experience, which not only makes for more well-rounded lawyers graduating from the school, but also attracts high-achieving students to UCalgary.

Students like Mirabelle Harris-Eze, whose carpe-diem moment came when she’d been accepted to present at last month’s Canadian Law Student Conference in Windsor, Ont.

“I emailed Associate Dean [of student services] Angela Gallo-Dewar to see if there was any way the faculty could help me,” says Harris-Eze. “She emailed me back right away and just made it happen. It meant so much to me to have my faculty’s support.”

The faculty covered Harris-Eze’s travel expenses, allowing her to present her paper — Why “Indigenizing” Prisons and Modifying Criminal Law Principles Will Never Lead to Transformative Justice — in person and connect with peers from across the country. It was also an opportunity to increase the visibility of Black law students and raise awareness of issues she’s passionate about, including how the criminal justice system impacts visible minorities and other equity-seeking groups.

“I was one of two Black students who presented research at the conference,” says Harris-Eze, who has served in leadership roles with both the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada and the UCalgary Black Law Students’ Association.

“Black law students are intelligent, creative and empathetic towards social issues. [Through the conference] I was able to meet other like-minded students who are writing about how the law can be used for social good.”

Mirabelle Harris-Eze and fellow attendees at the Canadian Law Student Conference in March 2023

Mirabelle Harris-Eze and fellow attendees at the Canadian Law Student Conference in March 2023.

Mirabelle Harris-Eze

It's appropriate given that the Faculty of Law Impact Fund is supported by philanthropy — donors who give to the university out of their own desire to do good and make a difference. And that’s what UCalgary Giving Day is all about.

The annual campaign sees thousands of alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members collectively rally behind causes that are meaningful to them — whether they be research projects, student awards, new teaching and learning spaces, or any number of initiatives across campus. It also gives donors the opportunity to double their impact when they give early. Eligible Giving Day gifts made from April 1 to 27 are matched, up to $2,500 per gift, but only while matching funds last.

For the Faculty of Law, that means more resources to help more students. Over the past 12 months alone, more than $55,000 was distributed from the impact fund, including nearly $32,000 toward students.

“The faculty succeeds when our students succeed,” says Holloway. “And the more students we have seeking out and able to take advantage of opportunities like these, the better school we are.”

It’s one of the reasons Harris-Eze chose UCalgary Law. She’s a Calgary native, but what clinched it for her was a scholarship and support from the faculty as an undergrad. “Even before law school, I had UCalgary Law students helping me with my application,” she says.

But it’s not only the faculty to whom she’s grateful. Harris-Eze is touched by the support of donors who give to the impact fund.

“There’s kindness in unexpected places,” she says. “Having people I’ve never met invest in my future is inspiring. It’s opened doors that would otherwise be closed, provided great networking opportunities, and reminded me that my law degree can be anything I want it to be.”

As she prepares to graduate with her Doctor of Law this spring and head to Ottawa where she’ll clerk for a federal judge, Harris-Eze is already considering how she can make a difference — and her move back to her hometown.

“I’ll be back,” she says, her ultimate goal being to practise as a litigator in Calgary. “I want to continue to be a part of the growing Black legal community in Calgary and invest in future law students — a lot of whom are coming into law school with limited resources and a hope that the future will be brighter.”

With Giving Day donors and the students they support paying it forward, tomorrow is already looking brighter, with plenty more ‘carpe diem’ moments for the next generation.

UCalgary Giving Day is April 27. Whether you support student awards, critical research or any one of UCalgary’s innovative funds, your gift will help change lives and shape the future. All eligible gifts made from April 1-27 will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $2,500 per gift — but only while matching funds last. Make your gift before midnight tonight at ucalgary.ca/givingday.

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