Be Opportunistic

The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work. ~ Thomas A. Edison

An aspiring one of our assistant lecture at University of Colombo School of Computing Harsha Perera was awarded with the Prof. V.K. Samaranayake Medal for the Most Outstanding Graduate of University of Colombo School of Computing in the Academic Year of 2014 which was presented at the General Convocation of University of Colombo (July 2015).

The Receiver of the prestigious award is recognized based on number of criteria on academic and non-academic excellence. We made it as an opportunity to interview Harsha sir with the purpose of stimulating the undergraduates of UCSC with a passion.
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Q. Just a few words about the award Prof. V.K. Samaranayake Medal for the Most Outstanding Graduate of University of Colombo School of Computing and how did you feel when you realized that you are “The” one to be rewarded with the medal?
Well, the medal is awarded by considering academic excellence, extra curricular activities, involvement in the university societies, contribution to social & cultural commitments, social relationship with staff, students, and industry etc. I would say, I would have been the most contented person at the moment with over excitement, happiness and satisfaction of making my parents proud.

Q. Apart from Prof. V.K. Samaranayake medal what are the other achievements you were recognized with?
Specifically to mention, I was announced as the winner of the title “Emerging young Leader of Sri Lanka (EYLA)” 2014 by beating above 1600 applicants and I think it is one of the most prestigious awards a youth can possess. Around 15 skills were tested including IQ, Leadership, Decision-making and Oratory. In addition , I was one of the 100 delegates for the World Conference on Youth (WCY) in the year 2014. I was proud that as a student of UCSC, I was privileged with the opportunity of promoting my university. Furthermore, I was a member of Sri Lanka Youth Parliament where we were selected by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development & National Youth Services Council. It was entirely a competitive interview across the country, eventually 72 senators were selected out of all.

Q. Tell us a bit about your background?
I am from a very moderate family with two siblings. Currently both of them are graduates . I am simply from an atmosphere where education is considered indispensable. On the other side, Beloved Mahanama College, Colombo-03 is my second mother. It is the place where I discovered what I am capable of accomplishing. In addition, I was awarded with the title “Excellent Mahanamian” at the awards ceremony for the best Ordinary Level Examination results for the year 2006. At the same time, my university, UCSC capture a special place in my heart. Because it was UCSC which molded me to who I am here. Opportunities are abundant. Unless we choose to respond appropriately, it would go worthless. Being an undergraduate of UCSC, except that you choose to make use of the opportunities available, university life will be nugatory.

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Q. The major problem any undergraduates would be facing is, balancing academics with extra curricular. Sir, how you managed to get both done?
Exactly, I had to bunk few lectures, so I was forced to work hard, probably did more self learning .When it was all getting close to examinations me along with my friends were involved in group studies which was more of an effective method of learning.

Q. Keeping aside the commitment and dedication, what in addition you think is the reason for being able to glamour from others?
For all of us, there comes a time where the right decision need to be made. Nevertheless, if we fail to choose wisely, it would always end up directing us to an unfitting path in life. I faced such a situation at the time of applying for university entrance. I was confused as to whether to proceed with the ICT degree or go for another attempt. I determined to proceed with the degree despite the fact that many were advising me to go for the second attempt. Now I would proudly say, One of the best and right decision I have made in my life was that.

Q. Particularly, there is a crowd of students who are not interested in the field of computing, but yet they are continuing their degree with more dislike. What do you like to say to them?
When I first entered University of Colombo, it was the pleasing and happiest moment out of all. But for a period of time, I was also a student into the category of anti technical lover with zero knowledge in it. Eventually, I thought of developing an interest towards the technical sections. I am a person who always believe in dedication, commitment and hard work. Just a single piece of advice is first develop your interest in technical sections since, you have no control over the course content and you cannot go back. One way to cultivate your interest is solely by keeping your perceptions aside and learning what actually it’s all about. Obviously you will be positioned to work harder.

Q. Who is your inspiration or rather your role model?
Specifically I have none. But my motivating factor would be such that looking back every time in life, I had something to lose, So I don’t want to lose each time. It was this thought that inspires me the most. In addition, my parents’ happiness in my achievements was also an motivating injection.

Q. Any words you would like to share with the undergraduates?
Yes, as I mentioned already, cultivate your interest in your field especially, makes it look attractive to yourself by understanding what it’s all about rather than holding onto your perception about your course content. Secondly, As all are aware it’s a competitive world, so every bits and pieces counts. You can not glow by focusing only in your academics, but also by showcasing and developing your talents by involving in extra curricular activities. Last but not least, that few years you spend in the university is an immense opportunity to shape and develop your attitude required for the rest of your life. It doesn’t solely provide you with a degree, but with also an irreplaceable life lessons.

Thank you Sir for sharing your story with us despite of your busy schedule, though it’s behind time. Congratulations and I wish you all the very best for future success in all the endeavors.

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