Monika Shafi

Building Blocks

Mother Grateful for Son’s Formative U.Va. Experience

Monika Shafi’s son, Karim, was not recruited for the U.Va. wrestling team when he came to the University as a premed student in 2009. He developed an interest in the sport late—as a freshman in high school—so he wasn’t among the players college scouts were keeping their eye on. Still, he wasn’t ready to give it up when he went to college. When Coach Steve Garland gave Karim a chance as a walk-on, his family was grateful.

“[Karim] wanted to pursue both a tough major like premed and he wanted to continue wrestling,” Shafi said. “I was very impressed with the way U.Va. approaches athletics. I was impressed with the coach and the teammates and the whole sports process.” And she wanted to support that process with her gift.

But while Shafi’s son raves about his time at U.Va. and continues to follow his friends’ successes on the wrestling team, he spent only one year at the University. Charlottesville is more than a four-hour drive from his family home in Delaware, and he didn’t want to be so far away. Karim transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he continues to excel academically and as a member of the wrestling team.

“Even though Karim has moved on, we see these experiences as building blocks,” said Shafi, who is Professor of German at the University of Delaware. “U.Va.was a formative experience for Karim. You need a community to raise a child, to form a person, and the community at U.Va.—both the academic community and also the wrestling community—were crucial for him, and I wanted to acknowledge that.”