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.”