I was born and raised in Sri Lanka. My family and I were fortunate to have escaped a brutal civil war in my native country and immigrated to the USA in 2001, which gave me the opportunity to pursue my hopes and dreams. We brought our cultural customs, traditions, and beliefs. Chief among these are a family-first mentality and my adherence to the Buddhist faith. I am very proud of my adopted country, and as a new American, I have a strong appreciation for this nation’s values—particularly the promise that anything is possible with hard work.
Growing up in Sri Lanka, I witnessed first-hand the war-torn country’s inability to contend with the constant, widespread outbreaks of malaria, elephantisis, and dengue. The shocking and deplorable health care system was to have a pivotal impact on my decision to become a physician. I, therefore, pursued Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland. As an undergrad, my goal was to quickly transition to medical school on the merits of a top-notch academic performance. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond my control hindered my plans. My parents fell into financial difficulty and were forced to file for foreclosure on their mortgage when I was a sophomore. In addition to the demands of an already strenuous course load, and a full roster of extracurricular activities, I took up two jobs in order to support my parents and myself financially. While I refused to give up my dream of attending medical school, the added pressure of work led to academic underperformance. However, knowing that I was progressing towards my goal of graduating, enabled me to persevere.
I can vividly remember receiving a call from Dean Taylor congratulating me on my acceptance to the GEMS program. Halfway through our conversation, I fell to the floor in tears. This was not only the very best thing that had happened to me, but it also was the best thing that had happened to my family. At that time, I knew what the impact of that phone call could potentially have on my future. I was thus determined to work with the utmost vigor to ensure that my future included medical school, and was eager to have the opportunity to demonstrate my ability to handle the rigors of a challenging medical school curriculum.
Ultimately, GEMS gave me that opportunity. Prior to GEMS, I had never been around a faculty who cared more about its students. GEMS is like a band of brothers and sisters who invariably have your best interests at heart. I am forever grateful for the endless support and guidance offered by the current GEMS family, including Dean Taylor, Dean Cheng and former GEMS students. Above all is Dean Taylor, who has been a father figure to us. I have never had a role model to look up to in the academic arena unit I arrived at Georgetown. In addition to developing academic and test-taking competencies that will pave the road to my success at Georgetown School of Medicine, the program has helped me cultivate strong communication and professional skills, which will enable me to forge close, trusting bonds with patients. GEMS is my beacon of light, and I am forever grateful of the opportunity.