Meet Manula Adhihetty: A&S alumnus set to make his mark in law

October 3, 2019 by Karen Gross - Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law at the Universtity of Toronto is excited to welcome, and welcome back, all of their students — JD, graduate and transfer students — and most especially their incoming first-year law (1L) students. A&S alumnus Manula Adhihetty was featured in in their annual series of new first-year profiles. 

When Manula Adhihetty was a small child in Colombo, Sri Lanka, his family made a pilgrimage to India. “There were children who didn’t have much to eat. I gave them food,” he remembers. “But even then, I realized something was wrong. These were children who were my age. We might have played together.” Instead, they were hungry and Manula was feeding them. It’s a vignette that stayed with him, kindling an enduring sensitivity to disadvantage. His own experience, at age 13, as a newcomer to Canada, made that sensitivity even sharper.

“I am so glad we came here. We’ve been able to create a life that we’re happy with,” Manula says. “There were moments when I really felt like we were starting from scratch. But my parents taught my brothers and me that becoming virtuous individuals in a united and happy family was more important than achieving financial and academic success. I try to follow their advice always.”

I’ve always been someone who would help out, get involved or talk things through when someone I knew was having a difficult time.

Now 22, Manula played cricket through high school, as a member of the junior provincial and national teams. At U of T, he earned an honours bachelor of arts in philosophy —  where he was the winner of the 2018 Thomas A. Goudge Scholarship in Philosophy — and will graduate with a master’s this fall. While studying and working as a teaching assistant, he took on several demanding volunteer roles, including as a youth mentor at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture and as a crisis helpline responder at the Toronto Distress Centres. “I’ve always been someone who would help out, get involved or talk things through when someone I knew was having a difficult time,” Manula says.

That is largely why he decided to abandon a plan to teach philosophy, and go to law school instead. “I’m very grateful for those volunteer experiences, because they showed me that I really want to do something practical to help people’s lives,” he says. “I think I can do that with the law. I want to work for an organization that’s either directly helping individuals or helping to create policies or change policies in ways that help people who are vulnerable.”

Read more on the Faculty of Law websiteIncoming: meet more of the new students in the Class of 2022.