Second-year student Olive Bensler receives Lou Hyndman Edmonton Glenora Award

This marks the second time in as many years that a Faculty of Law student has been chosen for the recognition

Priscilla Popp - 07 July 2022

After watching a Ted Talk by Ned Brooks, titled “What Makes a Person Decide to Donate His Kidney to a Stranger?” second-year University of Alberta Faculty of Law student Olive Bensler – or as most know her Bensler – knew what she wanted to do next.

“Three months before law school I was on the operating table to donate my kidney,” she said. 

Although complications found during surgery prevented her from completing the donation, the experience is just one example of the passion for human rights and health advocacy that is in large part the reason she was chosen to receive the 2022 Lou Hyndman Edmonton Glenora Award. 

The list of ways Bensler has lent a helping hand while still a student is a long one. In addition to being the current president of the National Kidney Donation Organization Canada (NKDO), she also started the first Canadian kidney donor group on Facebook, has served as a volunteer for Student Legal Services, held roles for the U of A’s Discipline, Interpretation and Enforcement Board and wrote for the Help Young Minds blog series. 

“I think authenticity brought me into every space and every opportunity I had,” she said, adding her observation that positions that are undertaken just to add a line to a resume tend to lack genuine motivation. 

“Volunteering, for me, is just an opportunity to carry out what I enjoy doing.” 

Another contributing factor to her interest in ensuring equal care for all stems from her childhood, when she moved frequently – including to South America – as part of a requirement of her parent’s work. 

“I got to move around a lot as a kid where I witnessed a lot of systemic injustice. When I returned, I realized we have it here too, we’re just significantly less conscious of it,” she said.  

While earning the award will see her receive a significant financial boost – $20,000 over two years – the recognition also signifies a deeper and more personal meaning for Bensler.

“I entered law school at 21 and very much felt young in comparison to my peers. The award quieted the doubts that I do belong in law school,” she said.  

Looking to the academic year ahead, Bensler said she is excited to have the opportunity to connect with more upper year and first-year students. She also, expectedly, is eager to take the Faculty’s international human rights and public international law course next semester. 

Before she begins that chapter, however, she will finish her current position as a legal intern at Goodlawyer in her homebase of Calgary, where she does work involving its onboarding processes and EDI policies.  

Though she may call Calgary home, Edmonton has brought with it its own surprise. 

“I really settled into life in Edmonton in my first year. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I have,” she said.