Alumni Update: Ransi Karunarathna, Sri Lanka

The Global UGRAD Program was a transformative experience, because I had the chance to explore U.S. diversity and culture. For me, traveling is more than simply seeing another place; it is an opportunity to learn about and reflect on my experiences. Although I have traveled to and studied in many international cities, the United Nations headquarter in New York City was the most remarkable. My Global UGRAD experience was a journey of learning opportunities that helped pave  the way to my current activities.

Being thousand miles away from home was not easy. The hard times helped me grow and move away from my comfort zone. From that, I became more independent and mature. When I think about my first few months at the University of Missouri – Columbia, I remember how distinctly welcoming the community was. It was there that I met my dearest mentor and favorite Russian professor. During the first two months, I struggled to learn academic English, but my Russian professor always cheered me up, helped me manage my mental health, and encouraged me to focus on my academics. Her guidance eventually helped me excel at my studies.

Growing up, I have always been a committed social worker and a volunteer. One of the simplest ways that I gain satisfaction from life is by dedicating my time to a cause that contributes to greater humanity. Soon after I returned to Sri Lanka to complete my final year of university, I started working with several non-governmental organizations and pursued my passions in peace building and reconciliation. While in the U.S., I had worked on a research paper regarding peace building and reconciliation, and I am proud to announce that it was published in a journal shortly after my return. I am currently Project Coordinator for the Humanitarian Organization for Peace and Education Sri Lanka. After graduation, I plan to apply for a master’s degree program and continue to work as a researcher and a contributor for peace building in Sri Lanka. My U.S. academic experience motivated me to innovate and think creatively, and I am thankful for this opportunity.

The Global UGRAD Program contributed to my growth and prepared me to serve the world. It will always remain as an inspiration and a motivation for me. Once a UGRAD, always a UGRAD!

Ransi Karunarathna, Sri Lanka, 2018 – 19, University of Missouri – Columbia