The Gustavian Weekly

Maya Jayawardena: Appreciating and recognizing diversity | The Gustavian Weekly

By Katie Volney Staff Writer | March 19, 2010 | Gustie of the Week, Variety

This year, Junior Maya Jayawardena was a co-chair of Building Bridges, her favorite organization and something she has been involved with since her first year at Gustavus. In addition to Building Bridges, Maya also is involved with Gustavus Meditation, Pan Afrikan Student Organization and Big Partner/Little Partner. Alex Messenger.

This year, Junior Maya Jayawardena was a co-chair of Building Bridges, her favorite organization and something she has been involved with since her first year at Gustavus. In addition to Building Bridges, Maya also is involved with Gustavus Meditation, Pan Afrikan Student Organization and Big Partner/Little Partner. Alex Messenger.

After visiting Gustavus for Tennis and Life Camp when she was younger, Maya Jayawardena knew immediately that it was the right place for her. “I really felt like I could grow here,” Maya said.

The junior health fitness major and peace studies minor from Mason City, Iowa has certainly taken advantage of her time here at Gustavus, getting involved in several on campus organizations.

“I found [Maya] to be a thoughtful, passionate and solution-oriented student leader. She truly is a remarkable young woman,” Director of Mulitcultural Programs Virgil Jones said.

On campus, Maya is a member of Gustavus Meditation and the Pan Afrikan Student Organization (PASO). She is also involved in Big Partner/Little Partner (BPLP) and enjoys playing cricket during family trips to Sri Lanka.

One of the most important ways in which Maya serves on campus is as co-chair of Building Bridges. She first became involved with the organization as a first-year and was immediately blown away by the fact that it is student-run and how well she was able to identify with its goals. In fact, Building Bridges is Maya’s favorite part about Gustavus.

“You become like a family … everyone is working hard for the same goal,” Maya said. “It changes your life once you see the final product.” The final product is the annual Building Bridges conference, which took place last Saturday and was quite successful.

“[Maya] is very passionate about Building Bridges and about social justice in general,” fellow Building Bridges Co-chair and Senior Communication Arts and Literature Teaching Major Rebekah Schulz said.

Maya also studied abroad for January Interim Experience of 2009 on the With One Voice: Tanzania trip. She says it was a “life-changing experience” and made her realize that she would like to work internationally after she graduates.

After graduation next year, Maya plans to get her Master’s degree in public health and hopes to eventually earn her Ph.D.

“Maya is a dedicated student who is just beginning to understand her infinite ability,” Jones said. There is no doubt that we will see great things from her in the future.