Walking down the Pierce College Mall, it’s hard not to notice the abundance of booths and smiling faces.
Club Rush is in full-effect, and much of its success is owed to one young student.
Lakshika Ruwanpathirana, 17, is the new president of the Associated Students Organization’s (ASO) Club Council.
Born in Sri Lanka, she has been attending Pierce since 2013 and had previously served as an ASO senator last spring.
She embraces the responsibilities of her new position, as well as those that manifest in her academics.
She simply wants to do as much as she can at Pierce.
“I do everything Pierce College,” Ruwanpathirana said.
During her childhood, Ruwanpathirana attended a British-run school in Sri Lanka where she began learning English at 2 years old.
She is bilingual, speaking both English and Sri Lanka’s national language, Sinhala.
“I think I’m more fluent in English than my own language,” Ruwanpathirana said.
Ruwanpathirana has been in the United States since she obtained her residency permit in 2012.
Her early education in Sri Lanka allowed her to become a full-time college student at a younger age than most.
As Club Council president, Ruwanpathirana oversees all the clubs and organizes any events involving them.
“I take care of the clubs, advise them and give them guidance,” Ruwanpathirana said.
“The council constantly has meetings with the club reps where we discuss upcoming events and ideas.”
She has to maintain a close relationship with the clubs and their representatives, as they must work together to reach their goals.
“I want to be a leader,” Ruwanpathirana said. “But I don’t really want to command them too much. I want to get to know what they want to do so that we can have a mutual relationship and benefit each other.”
Curtis Smith, who doubles as the assessment director at Pierce and the ASO Adviser, has been impressed with Ruwanpathirana in her short time as Club Council president.
“She’s responsible, motivated, and Club Rush this year was probably better than it was last fall,” Smith said.
“In the fall, we renew charters for clubs, and it’s a challenge to get that done.”
Ruwanpathirana was also a member of several other clubs last semester, including the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society and the International Students Club. She said that being in those clubs helped inspire her to pursue the Club Council presidency.
However, her main inspiration to become Club Council president came from her time in the ASO senate.
The previous Club Council president also motivated her, and showed her how she was able to manage school work and extra curricular activites.
“It was my decision. I knew I wanted to be president,” Ruwanpathirana said.
“It’s a lot of duties and responsibilities, but I don’t take it as a burden.”
A chemical engineering major, Ruwanpathirana wants to transfer to the University of California, Berkeley.
She wants to inspire her peers to believe that it is possible to balance their classes with multiple extra-curricular activities and a social life.
“I have big dreams,” Ruwanpathirana said through a smile.
ASO President Alex Oloo commended Ruwanpathirana for her dedication to school and to the Club Council.
“I’m so impressed with her. She attends classes here and at Valley College, and she decided to take this position. She’s shown how coordinated she is,” Oloo said.
“She’s very young, but she’s somebody who’s up for any challenge,” Oloo said.
On top of all of her other endeavors, Ruwanpathirana takes time to help students one-on-one as an English tutor at Pierce.
She also loves math and chemistry, both of which are heavily applied in chemical engineering.
“I’m a nerd,” Ruwanpathirana said with a laugh.
Outside of her busy scholastic schedule, Ruwanpathirana is an avid music fan.
She enjoys going to concerts, where she has first learned about advertising and promotion.
She played the piano for about six years, though now she claims to be out of practice with the instrument.
“[Piano] was a hobby. I didn’t want to major in it. I just wanted to enjoy it,” Ruwanpathirana said.
Ruwanpathirana has a brother who she currently lives with. Their parents are also residents of the United States, but they are currently living in Sri Lanka for business reasons.
Accepting and overcoming challenges is the name of the game for Ruwanpathirana.
She wants to do everything she can to help her school and hopes that all students appreciate Pierce as highly as she does.
“I want students to remember Pierce College,” Ruwanpathirana said.
“When they graduate from USC or UCLA, I want them to say: ‘We are Pierce Brahmas.”