By John Hampson
As graduation ceremonies quickly approach, recipients of various awards are being proclaimed throughout the university community. The Future Alumni Award is the highest honour given by the University of Calgary Alumni Association, recognizing outstanding students and promising future leaders. This year’s recipient is Alyx Nanji.
The Future Alumni Award is a subcategory of the Arch Awards distributed by the Alumni Association.
“The Arch Awards program honours our finest alumni and future graduates,” said Alumni Association president Ken McKinnon. “Alyx [is an] outstanding recipient and [he] will be joining a very impressive group of past award winners.”
Nanji is viewed as an active leader and avid volunteer within his community at large, on campus through clubs, and within the Students’ Union. “Instead of saying no, I say yes,” said Nanji of the force behind his success.
Nanji founded Stop the Beef, an educational campaign targeting gang and high-risk activity among youth in Calgary. “The timing was right for this initiative because it was mainly focused when the gang war was rampant in Calgary,” explained Nanji.
Nanji will graduate this year with a double degree in commerce and social work.
Originally he studied solely in the Haskayne School of Business, but later decided his interests also lay in social work.
“Once I entered social work I realized that there were no clubs that I could get involved with. Social work students were missing out on an opportunity to develop their professional and social lives through clubs.”
On this basis, Nanji founded the Social Work Students’ Association.
Classmate and current SU Social Work Representative Bobbi Michaud said “Alyx wasn’t involved with the club for very long.”
Since Nanji’s absence a new president has been elected.
“We restructured the Social Work Student Association to better represent our social work values,” Michaud said.
After establishing the Social Work Students’ Association, Nanji campaigned to represent his fellow social work students as a faculty representative on the SU.
“I really provided the voice that social work students didn’t have.”
Michaud said she enjoyed having Nanji as a classmate. “He always added some humour or a business perspective to our class discussions.”
Nanji also has a love for soccer. “I’ve been playing soccer for a very long time.” His love of the sport grew into something much more and he began coaching a group of at-risk youth, serving as their mentor.
Nanji is active in city and university politics as well. He served as campaign manager for Calgary Public School Board Trustee Pamela King, chaired Ric McIver’s student engagement efforts and successfully managed SU president Dylan Jones’s campaign.
Nanji is not certain where his future will lead.
“I’m actually still trying to figure that out. I’m leaning now a lot to politics.”
Nanji is currently working as executive assistant to Ted Morton in his bid for leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. “I’m seeing how this game is played. I love campaigns, so it may just be a mesh of public policy that I pursue.”
Nanji said he doesn’t like the status quo and he tries to make a difference.
“I just get up and do it. One person can actually make a difference and make change. I’ve achieved a lot so far,” he said.