Viraga Perera, Widener University
Viraga Perera, a senior student at Widener University, is well known on campus for his active civic engagement and success in and out of the classroom. He is committed and dedicated to social change, civic engagement and advocacy on both a national and international level. Through his work as a Presidential Service Corp/Bonner member, Viraga has made significant improvements in the recruitment and retentions efforts for community partners in the Chester area. His humble and charismatic demeanor has enabled him to build positive relationships with students, community members and staff. His efforts in leadership, service and scholarship have won him several awards. Viraga is a role model to other students in his ability to balance his various responsibilities effectively. He is passionate, enthusiastic and responsible. He has modeled to others the importance of social responsibility and giving back.
-James T. Harris III, D.Ed., President
Following my work with the Interact Club of my high school in Sri Lanka, I felt prepared and excited to become a part of the Presidential Service Corps/ Bonner Leader program at Widener University, which focusses on collaboratively enhancing the community of Chester, PA through a 300 hours/ year commitment during our time at the institution. Through this program, I got the opportunity to serve as a tutor, a program assistant, and, later, the student volunteer coordinator of the College Access Center of Delaware County. Given the consistently poor performance of the Chester Upland school district, work at the center translated to supporting many dreams of going to college and, eventually, for a better life. Furthermore, I had the privilege of sharing the magic of theater with the elementary school students of this school district, who have minimal exposure to the performing arts, as an actor in the Theater for Young Audiences program at Widener. I believe that effective civic engagement begins with empathy; given that I have personally benefitted from the liberating power of education and art, I desire to continue to share that power with those who seek it.