Harvard normally accepts only one Sri Lankan student each year, yet despite this we currently have past pupils in three out of the four classes there, all on full scholarships. Harvard is the oldest university in the United States, founded in 1636, and is regularly ranked 1st in the different rankings of world universities. Alumni include 8 US Presidents, such as Franklin D Roosevelt, John F Kennedy and Barack Obama; 62 current billionaires including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg; and actors, musicians and authors including the poet T.S. Eliot. Given how unusual it is to have three students there at the same time – unique, perhaps, for a Sri Lankan school – we decided to catch up with them and find out how their courses were going.
Nirasha Guruge is now in her Senior year at Harvard, studying Economics, and is also Co-Captain of the Women’s Squash team, having been named to the CSA All-American team for the past three years. Nirasha was Sri Lanka’s National Squash Champion from the age of 14 and was one of three Elizabeth Moir School students to represent Sri Lanka at the 15th Asian Games in Doha in 2006. As well as excelling on the sports field at school, she also found time to gain 3 A grades at A Level. Looking back on her time at school, Nirasha says: ‘What stood out for me about Elizabeth Moir School were the teachers, who all played such an enormous role in our school lives. Everyone was incredibly friendly and this meant that the two years that I spent at the school was the best time of my life.’
Atul Bhattarai joined the school in Form 3, when his family moved to Colombo from Nepal. A star student, he gained 9 A grades at O Level and 4 A grades at A Level, and is now a sophomore at Harvard, majoring in Government. Having been President of the Press Club in school, he is now an Editor of The Harvard Crimson, the oldest college daily newspaper in the US. He has also recently had an article published in the Harvard Political Review (a national magazine founded by then Harvard student Al Gore, among others) entitled: ‘A Moral Conundrum: How American Business Money Changes the International Landscape’. Atul remains grateful to the school for laying the foundations for his current success, saying: ‘It was through the school’s careful guidance and support that I achieved what I did academically, and through its extra-curricular emphasis I discovered my passion for writing.’
The foundations of Sabrina Ghouse’s success were laid at the Junior School, where she was Head Prefect. She went on to gain 10 A grades at O Level, winning an Edexcel Award for the best results in Sri Lanka, and 4 A grades at A Level. Among many other achievements, Sabrina was the Producer of the hugely successful 2009 concert FLUX, Columbus House Captain, Girls’ Football Captain and Head Girl. She started at Harvard this term and has been taking diverse courses ranging from Intensive Arabic to the History of Science to Environmental Politics. She has been appointed Event Chairman of the Harvard Art Society and has been very involved in community service projects, as she was in school, becoming Student Coordinator for the Mission Hill After School Program in Boston and a founding member of the Harvard chapter of Learn to Be. She is also one of five students who have been chosen to go to Beijing in January to work in orphanages as part of the Harvard China Care programme. Sabrina says: ‘After spending 11 years at Elizabeth Moir School, I can unquestionably state that my teachers and peers became my family. Throughout my time at school, I was able to contribute to every club, activity and event I was passionate about, and ardently enjoy every minute of it at the same time.’