This is the first time that we are doing an award ceremony for the Alumni, said W.K.H. Wegapitiya, Chairman of the Sri Jayewardenepura University Alumni Association.
The Award Ceremony had been in discussion for quite a long time and took a period of six months to organize. He stated proudly that the University since 1956, had produced a number of successful and distinguished graduates in various fields such as academics, arts and culture, commerce, entrepreneurship, business management and bureaucracy, specializing particularly in Management and Arts. At the current count, the Sri Jayewardenepura Alumni Association has 3,000 active members around the world.
“The Alumni of Sri Jayewardenepura University are like an extended family. Through social media we are extremely close and everyone knows one another, even with the difference in ages and eras! We all interact with one another. We all help to mentor the younger generations according to their ambitions and because of this…the social capital that we have as an Alumni is very strong, one of the strongest in Sri Lanka in fact! We have always wanted to find a way of recognizing them and rewarding them but unfortunately the event has been delayed for various reasons. However this year, we are determined to make sure the Alumni are honoured as they deserve to be.” replied Mr. Wegapitiya with his excitement and pleasure being abundantly clear, when asked what prompted the creation of this expensive and glamorous event.
To honour this large number of successful graduates who have “contributed immensely to our society, economy and our nation at large”, all of the Alumni of Sri Jayewardenepura University across the globe, are coming together on the 8th of August 2016. This event’s already prestigious gathering of 250 to 300 aspiring graduates will be joined by the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe who will be the chief guests as well as another 100 guests, including politicians and V.I.Ps. This grand total of 400 guests will “add a little glamour to the event” as Mr. Wegapitiya put it with a twinkle in his eye.
The event took time, effort and dedication. Costs were high, yet due to the generosity and support the Association had from the University and its own members, as well as other sources this barrier was conquered with time. There was another difficulty; “Getting all the alumni into one event was extremely difficult as they were scattered across the globe, but there were blessings and many other demonstrations of support for us and for the University.” said the leader of the Sri Jayewardenepura Alumni Association.
However this year, the only alumni receiving awards will be “those who have gained top positions in the government sector” said the Chairman of the Alumni in response to being asked about the list of alumni receiving awards “Next year of course, we will be including both private and public sectors.
Unfortunately the selection process was quite difficult this year due to various reasons.” The reason that the selection process was quite difficult and took a long time was because the Alumni could not recognize everyone as some were retired or not doing active service. Ultimately the selection criteria were narrowed down to the contemporaries in government service. Moreover, “the Alumni will set up an additional scheme next year exclusively for those who have contributed in the private sector, all of which will come in stages over the years to come,” declared Mr. Wegapitiya.
He expressed great pride when speaking of what he believed to be the start of a great tradition following the exploits of future graduates. He believed that this would be “the triggering event” that would take the University and its Alumni forward into a new era of unity and prosperity. When asked how he’d feel seeing more and more new faces joining the Alumni after a period of about ten years he replied with a dead serious expression “I don’t think I’ll live that long to begin with!” before his face split into a smile. “All the Alumni of Sri Jayewardenepura have a very strong link. Whether they receive an award or not, all of them will always have the affection and support of the other members of the Alumni Association.”
A final message was directed at the future graduates in the years to come. Mr. Wegapitiya’s passion shone through as he declared the statement, pride etched clearly on his face as he spoke these words
“As the Chairman of the Alumni Association, what I can say to the new generation is quite simple; Join with us. The University of Sri Jayewardenepura has produced excellent graduates! Sri Lanka has the best education system given free of charge. I invite the younger generation to join us so that we can repay debts to our Motherland and to our beloved University!”