University of the Fraser Valley

Outstanding Student Leadership award — Manjot Benning leads by example with compassion

Outstanding Student Leadership award — Manjot Benning leads by example with compassion

A student would have to be really outstanding to be the first-ever winner of the UFV Alumni Association’s Outstanding Student Leader award. 

Manjot Benning fits the bill, and then some! 

She’s graduating this June with top marks in her Bachelor of Science degree program, with sights set on medical school applications in the future. She’s a straight-A biology major with a near-perfect 4.15 GPA and has been on the UFV Science Dean’s list since December 2019. 

But it’s for her activity outside the classroom that the Alumni Association is choosing to honour her with its inaugural award. 

Manjot is such a deeply involved UFV student that it’s hard to find an activity or organization related to her studies that she is not involved with and excelling at. 

She is vice-president of the UFV Women in Science and Technology club, sits on the Senate budget committee, and has served as a UFV Lead student mentor, and a wellness peer leader. 

She has also worked in paid positions that help UFV students and the next generation. She’s been a Supported Learning Group leader (supporting first-year students in introductory calculus courses) and a Science Rocks summer day camp leader. 

Manjot Benning with UFV Alumni Association chair Tony Dhaliwal.

Manjot is also engaged in research at the undergraduate level, working as a research assistant on the UFV Proteomics team. 

She also volunteers in the community, serving as a community policing volunteer with the Abbotsford Police Department, a surgical daycare volunteer at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, a volunteer with children at the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, and as an in-school mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

Dr. Stefania Pizzirani, an assistant professor in UFV’s School of Land Use and Environmental Change, nominated Manjot for the inaugural Outstanding Student Leadership award.  

“Manjot is clearly an exceptional individual,” noted Pizzirani. “She consistently exemplifies the qualities of determination, inclusivity, collaboration, mentorship, leadership, and genuine enthusiasm for learning. I have seen few students as passionate about community (both within and outside of UFV) as Manjot. She is truly an inspiration to me and to the wider student body as well. She is extremely hard working and leads all her actions with a good heart and meaningful intentions.” 

Amy Carrick, the volunteer coordinator at Canuck Place children’s hospice, also wrote in support of Manjot’s nomination for the Outstanding Student Leadership award. 

“Manjot has demonstrated distinct leadership through her volunteerism at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice,” noted Carrick. “Manjot is someone who is willing to step in wherever needed and demonstrates a high level of care towards all levels of stakeholders at Canuck Place. We are truly grateful to have her as a volunteer and I cannot recommend Manjot highly enough for this award!” 

Manjot Benning and Professor Stefania Pizzirani.

Manjot is thrilled to be receiving the Outstanding Student Leadership award, because it recognizes her efforts to help others, particularly fellow students. 

“When you’re a first-year student the transition is huge, and challenging. You don’t really know what resources are out there,” she says. “Through my volunteer activities, I try to connect students to the many resources that UFV offers to support students. There is a lot of help available that the first-year student is just not aware of, but that can help them succeed and connect with other students. I’m the first generation in my family to go on to post-secondary so I’ve had to figure out a lot of things on my own. I just want to make it easier for other students.  

“I help point them in the direction of educational advisors who can help them choose what classes to take, places where they can get help academically through programs like Supported Learning Groups, and other wellness resources. Even if I don’t have the answer, I can help them connect with others who can better assist them.” 

Her volunteer work also allows her to branch out of the science-focused academic side of her UFV experience.  

How does she fit it all in? 

“I’ve become really good at time management. I’ve always been very passionate about volunteering. A big part of me wants to be out there helping. I build in time to my schedule to make sure I can go out and connect with people who need help,” she says, fresh off a Friday shift at Abbotsford’s Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. 

“I’m so grateful for all the opportunities that I have had at UFV,” she notes. “My advice for new students is to get involved. Attend events. Sign up for clubs. You might discover something that you’re passionate about that you didn’t even know existed before. And reaching out gives you the opportunity to network with other people who can help you and connect you to different opportunities.”