Furyal Hussain’s dedication to volunteering earns her Lou Hyndman Edmonton Glenora Award

Win marks third year in a row a Faculty of Law student takes home prestigious honour

Doug Johnson - 15 November 2023

At any given time throughout the year, second-year University of Alberta Faculty of Law student Furyal Hussain has multiple volunteer projects on the go. Finding the time and drive to devote so many volunteer hours each week — while also pursuing full-time studies — is no easy feat.

“It’s hard. Time management is a skill that I think I picked up from my parents — they’re very hardworking people,” she says. “I definitely picked up on that. I was conditioned by my environment.”

In recognition of her dedication to volunteer work and organizing, Hussain was named the 2023 recipient of the Lou Hyndman Edmonton Glenora Award. The award comes with $20,000 for two years of study. 

This is the third year in a row that a Faculty of Law student received this award. 

Each year, the award goes to students who show exceptional leadership in volunteer or philanthropic organizations either on campus or out in the community. Hussain certainly fits the bill. 

When she was in Grade 11, Hussain founded the Khushi Refugee Foundation. The group raises funds from the community to support the education of children from religious minority groups in Tando Village, Pakistan. Each year, the charitable organization picks four of these youth to fund. 

“The goal is to pay for the education of your schooling from kindergarten to university — like forever,” Hussain says. “It’s completely funded by the community.”

While this was one of Hussain’s first forays into the world of volunteerism, it certainly wasn’t her last. She also notes that much of her philanthropic hours are spent helping marginalized groups both in Canada and overseas. She’s also helped organize a drive to provide disabled students back-to-school supplies in Calgary and worked with the Mustard Seed.

This year’s Lou Hyndman Edmonton Glenora Award isn’t the first honour she received for her dedication to volunteering. In 2022, she was named the Scotiabank Award Recipient for Law. The prestigious award goes to a law student who has shown a dedication to combating racism in the field of law. 

Hussain began her post-secondary education at the University of Calgary. She graduated from the school with an undergraduate degree in law and society with a minor in political science. “It just goes to show that I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,” she says. 

‘It makes all the hard work fun’ 

Since enrolling at the U of A’s Faculty of Law, Hussain has taken on many volunteer positions. For instance, since September of last year, she’s worked as a criminal, family and civil law caseworker with Student Legal Services of Edmonton. 

“I really liked this project. I got to work with and help marginalized people, to be a resource for them,” she says. “I really enjoyed that part.” 

Since September, she’s become a member of the Office of the Registrar’s Student Advisory Committee, a student mentor, a member of the Law Library Student Advisory Committee and the Secretary of the U of A Muslim Law Students’ Association. 

In this last position, she helps the organization put on networking events, and more generally provide support for its members. The group aims to “give a very isolated group on campus a platform, and a place to connect with each other,” she says. 

For Hussain, both her drive and her ability to juggle so much volunteer work with her studies comes from a source close to home. Hussain’s family immigrated to Canada from Saudi Arabia 11 years ago, when she was 10. She recalls watching her parents adapt, and spend a lot of time and effort trying to fit in. She recalls wishing that they didn’t feel like they downplay their identity and culture at the time. This is why she got interested in supporting marginalized groups, including first-generation Canadians. 

Hussain is also the youngest of six daughters in her family and recalls being surrounded by her successful siblings. “I grew up around a lot of very strong women. They’re doctors, engineers, pharmacists — so I had a lot of role models around me,” she says. 

Some of the support also comes from her on-campus community, she says. In particular, Hussain cites her student mentor Shanza Arif as a key motivator — someone who provides guidance and encourages her to give her best work. However, the rest of the Faculty of Law also play an important role. 

“I get a lot of support, not only from my family but also from my peers at the U of A. It’s a very collegial environment,” she says. “It makes all the hard work fun.”