Life has never been a bed of roses for Shehan Paul. His journey has been a tough but remarkable one. Starting from a very low point, Shehan has climbed very high on the ladder of life and success. An Engineering Undergraduate at University of Moratuwa, a passionate public speaker, a youth volunteer, a youth leader, an actor, a language enthusiast who can fluently speak four languages, this young man is a multi-faceted character with great potential.

Speaking to Teen Inc, he shared his journey until now and how he made it. Having lost his father at the age of three, Paul’s soul strength has been his mother. Together they have won so many battles.

“Being a dairy farmer in a remote village in Kurunegala District, my mother has never been rich, but she didn’t cease her battles to provide the best for me. She always encouraged me to go for bigger things. Starting from my first school, Wickramashila National School, Giriulla, she wanted me to pursue studies in English medium. In a village where people used to think going to a garment factory or going middle-east as a house servant were the only salvation, my mother and I, as we were not from an English speaking, privileged family background, had to face many hardships, yet never gave up” Paul looked back into his past.

The second chapter of Paul’s life, which is again full of challenges, started as he went to Ananda College, Colombo. “It was quite a tough time, travelling up and down to school every day by bus; a journey which took around six hours altogether and engaging in extracurricular activities of the Media Unit as an English Announcer. There were instances where I had to walk 10-11 km at midnight. It was hard but I continued,” he shared. He did a great job as the Chief English Announcer of Ananda College 2016/17. Amidst all these hardships, Shehan feels like he has won the battle as he has now entered into the University of Moratuwa with outstanding results for A/Ls.

Leaving the school, Paul got the chance to become an English News reporter at a well-known television channel in Sri Lanka. He has been working as the Secretary General of Sri Lanka Rotaract Model United Nations and as a Toastmaster and vice president, membership at Tampines West Toastmasters Club, Singapore.

Currently, he is working as the vice president, public relations, Gavel Club of University of Moratuwa and Assistant Director of public relations and extended affairs, Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL) student chapter of University of Moratuwa.

Chasing the passion

“Who is Shehan Paul? That’s quite a hard question…I have tried a thousand and one things during these years of my life. Sometimes I feel that I have discovered who I am and sometimes I feel the other way around. I believe there’s lot more to be discovered; many being revealed, many to be discovered. However, I continue to search for the self; trying out different things because the victory lies in the ‘try’,” responds Shehan to my question.

Thanks to his outstanding public-speaking skills, he has won numerous national and international awards too.

“I’m a person who chases my passion, and my passion lies in many fields. Public speaking, nevertheless, has been something I wanted to do since childhood. I haven’t ever been reluctant to grab whatever chance I received for public speaking. That’s how I got into this business” Paul noted.

A radical character

Shehan’s thinking has always been out of the box. It has confronted him many challenges but at the same time makes him special.

 “Having done A/L in the science stream, I wanted to study English Literature and Languages too. So, I started to do second shy (although I was already selected for engineering) in Arts stream because I had a passion for literature and languages too. Many asked me to do something else like a management course instead of wasting time in ‘stupid things’. But I knew what I wanted and so, I did it. It is still like that, whatever people would say, I continue to follow my dreams and passions because they are what make me happy at the end.” Paul shared his experience with us.

An army of supports

“I believe that I am who I am today because of the support I receive from everyone in my journey” Shehan Paul made it a chance to acknowledge his gratitude to those who supported him.

“As I mentioned earlier also, it is my mother, who took it to become a shepherd-lady, after the death of my father, took care of me. She had always been my strength. She taught me not be ashamed of what I am and where I am from. Therefore, I won’t hesitate to mention that I am a son of a shepherd-lady even at a UN conference. I am proud of who I am as well as who my mom is. Then, there have been mentors in every stage of my life; teachers at Wickramashila National School and of Ananda College always had my back. They always encouraged me to be more. Next, indeed my colleagues whom I met at the school where I used to work as a teacher for some time and my lectures at the University also have supported me immensely in this journey. So, here’s a big thank to everyone!”

Believe in yourself

“I know that there are thousands of others like me, knowing that they have something to tell, who believe that they can do speak. Even I remember how I used to read articles like this, practicing speech. So, I think if you have a dream and believe in yourself, nothing can stop you from being what you want to be. So believe in yourself! And here’s a tip if you want to improve as a public speaker; watch as much TV series and films as you can. That’s how I started it. Finally, I’d like to stress that you can be whatever you want, if you believe in yourself. Never listen to those who would tell you that you can’t make it. Go for it!” Shehan Paul shared with the readers of Teen Inc.

Some of Shehan’s recent achievements:

  • – National Youth Award for the Best English Speaker, presented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, 2019
  • – National Youth Award for the Best English Speaker of the Year, presented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, 2020
  • – National Youth Award for the Best English Announcer of the Year, presented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, 2020
  • – Best Prepared Speaker in Speech Olympiad, Inter-university speech competition organised by the Gavel Club of University of Moratuwa, 2021
  • – First Runner up at Best Speaker, Inter-university speech competition organised by the Gavel Club of University of Kelaniya
  • – Championship of the Speech Weaver, Inter-University speech competition organised by the Gavel Club of University of Jayewardenepura, 2022
  • – Third Place in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest organised by the Toastmasters Club of district 80, Singapore, 2022
  • By Induwara Athapattu