College Scholar Helps School in Sri Lanka


One characteristic we frequently see in our Scholars is a constant awareness of, and desire to help, those less privileged. There is no better example than Sharmen Hettipola, whose fundraising efforts for a school in Sri Lanka recently caught our attention.

Sharmen, a freshman at Bucknell University who plans to complete her degree in environmental studies and economics, recounts being overjoyed at becoming a Young Scholar back in 2008. After a principal recommended she apply, Sharmen completed four years at Washington, DC’s Georgetown Day School as a Scholar and soon after applied for, and was accepted into, the Foundation’s College Scholarship Program.

In 2012 Sharmen took a summer-long trip to Sri Lanka. While she typically went to Sri Lanka every two years or so to stay with her grandparents, most of her trips didn’t last that long. When she informed Sarah Hersh, her educational adviser, of the length of her upcoming visit, she received a wise question in response: Are you thinking of volunteering?materials

After talking with family and doing a bit of research, Sharmen decided to help out at the Haragama School, one of the poorer establishments in a village near her family’s home. Having grown up in America, the school decided it was best if she helped teach English to students between first and eighth grade.

What Sharmen noticed primarily was a lack of supplies. While the students she instructed were eager to learn—just like Sharmen and her fellow Jack Kent Cooke Scholars in the U.S.—they lacked books, an adequate space, and even clothing required to meet dress code standards. In addition, she felt for the learners who were kinesthetic but couldn’t receive the sort of interactive instruction they might get elsewhere.

It was hard for Sharmen to leave that summer, but it brought a great realization: she wasn’t going to give up on the 200 plus students at the Haragama School.

She decided to first start a fundraiser online for the school, in conjunction with an education course she was students3taking at Bucknell. Sharmen recently updated her fundraiser on CrowdRise, with a financial goal of $5,000.

Sharmen hopes to use the funds on building and supplying a library for Haragama students, as well as providing for various other basic needs. She didn’t rule out growing her team (currently one—herself) or taking a visit back to Sri Lanka in the near future.

You can help Sharmen’s cause by clicking here. It’s great to see Scholars give back so much. Tell us what you’re doing to give back—we would love to hear from you!