Biologically I am an only child, but culturally I have about twenty brothers and sisters. I live at home with my mom, Tina, my dad, Janaka, and my puppy, Koby, but I am most at home when I’m surrounded by the several kids I have grown up with since birth, my Sri Lankan community. My parents were born and raised on the tiny island of Sri Lanka, and just like all of my friends’ parents, they moved to Boston to attend college. As a community, culture and education mean a lot to us, considering our nationality and schooling brought our families together.

Being a South Asian islander, I most often refer to myself as “brown,” because like many others in this world, the color of my skin has defined my perceptions. Growing up in this country, I have heard terms such as “white privilege” and “black struggle,” but there seems to be no social norm classifying the issues brown individuals go through. My skin color makes me feel like I am in a limbo-type of zone when it comes to societal identity, and this inspires me to use my non-bias for the greater good of all races. I strive to create a society that is equal in all aspects, where not one race, gender, or sex is targeted for disparities, and I see public service as the perfect way to achieve this goal.

My love for public service and helping others came from my work in the non-profit world. I previously worked at the Institute of Global Youth Development Programs, which looks to build youth and community leadership and provide opportunities for professional development, educational enhancement, and violence prevention. I also work with the Komera Project, which assists girls in rural Rwanda, who have the courage and desire to pursue secondary education, but who lack the resources to do so.  Both non-profits have showed me the lack of equality that exists within education, inspiring me to pursue education reform. Being a Ward Fellow in City Councilor Tito Jackson’s office has been extremely stimulating, considering the Councilor is Chair of the Education Committee.

I dream of helping girls in developing countries receive the education they deserve. I am horrified by the thought of hundreds of Nigerian girls being kidnapped for rightfully pursuing an education, but at the same time I am inspired by young women, like Malala Yousafzai, who go against all odds to spread their message to the world. My friends and I founded a club at Boston Latin School, REAL (Raising Educational Awareness Leads to a) Future, which spreads educational awareness and advocates women empowerment. Extracurricular activities give me a chance to explore my passions and put my skills to the test in a non-classroom setting.

As a rising senior, I could not be more excited about the classes I will be taking this upcoming fall. I am proud to say that I am one of twenty-four students who will be taking a brand new pilot course at Boston Latin School, The Capstone Project. In this interdisciplinary class, I will be creating a documentary comparing various education systems used throughout the world. Specifically, I will be comparing a private school in Sri Lanka, a non-profit school in Rwanda, and a public school in the United States. I will then display my findings in a TED Talk fashion to my friends, family, classmates, and the Greater Boston area.

In addition to closing the education gap, locally and globally, I look forward to traveling the world. So far I have been to India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, France, Brazil, and Australia, and I look forward to many more destinations. I plan to join the Peace Corps after college, thereby fulfilling my dreams of reform and traveling at the same time.

To me, a successful life is a happy life, and happiness to me is making other people happy. I believe my happiness will come from spreading equality, whether that be creating a school in Rwanda or simply helping some students with their math homework. I have full faith that I will be happy and successful in the direction I am headed. The only question left is how many lives can I change, and I look forward to finding out that answer for myself.