Once again, many have completed their rite to adulthood with the completion of their A/L examination. But this year is something special. It’s the year that Rashmi Nimesha Gunawardena completed her A/L examination, placing 156 in the Ratnapura District in the Commerce subject, writing her papers using only her left foot.

Born with no arms and equipped with an artificial foot on her right leg, Rashmi has to rely on her right leg to write, turn over pages and even use the computer. Born to parents who are both from a teaching and education background, she has had a stellar academic career, completing her scholarship exam in grade five with 153 marks, her O/L’s with 8As and 1B and now her A/Ls, studying Accounting, Business Studies and Economics as her three subjects, acing all three of them.

Paying tribute to the sheer mental fortitude to persevere in adversity, especially during a time when all Sri Lankans are facing challenges, Teen inc reached out to Rashmi to learn more about her thoughts and feelings about this impressive victory and her goals for the future.

Still enjoying the afterglow of her major achievement, Rashmi already has her vision for the future she’s working towards.

“I want to work in Human Resources in the future,” she explained. “I’ve already enrolled and following a course on Human Resources Management at CIPM (Chartered Institute of Personnel Management) Sri Lanka at the moment, and I do want to complete a degree in Human Resource Management in the University that I will attend.”

Why HR?

“I just like the field,” Rashmi shared. “I’m not very interested in dealing with calculations and numbers. I like to work with people, learn about them, connect with them, and I’m also contributing to a few motivational programmes, and I think HR is something that blends together well with all these things.”

Already on track to completing her HR programme with CIPM, to which she enrolled after completing her exams, Rashmi is making the most of her time and is working hard towards achieving her success.

Education and COVID-19

“COVID definitely changed a lot of things,” Rashmi agreed. “We couldn’t go to school or attend classes physically because of the coronavirus. But the teachers did their best through online classes, and tuition classes also made it easier to do all the academic work from home.”

“For me, the shift towards online classes was in fact a benefit, because I would have otherwise had to travel between classes. Being able to save all that time and effort allowed me to stay at the comfort of home and continue my studies.”

“But I am a bit sad about it, because we lost a lot of time we otherwise could have spent at school. Being a student at school is a beautiful time, and not being able to experience all of the time we could have enjoyed is a little bittersweet.”

To achieve great things

Rashmi didn’t forget to express gratitude to her parents for encouraging her to pursue and achieve great things in her academic career. “I think their exposure being teachers and educators played a big part of motivating me to do so, and helping me be exposed to society, and it was that foundation that they instilled on me which helped me come this far,” she expressed.

“But there are many children who have parents that aren’t aware enough, children who are isolated, who aren’t exposed to society, and don’t have the opportunity to obtain an education and grow. I believe that any child who receives that opportunity from a young age by their parents, they too can achieve great things.”

Besides her contribution to motivational programmes, Rashmi aims to be a strength to people with disabilities to help them come into the light and work towards achieving their goals, in however way she can. A goal she is already working on at the moment. “It would be a joy for me if my story, or my words can help someone else enter their path of success,” she shared.

Becoming resilient

“I believe that life comes with many challenges, whether you are a person with a disability or not. We have to face those challenges with whatever we have at our disposal, and move forward in life, It’s definitely easier said than done, but I believe that everyone has the strength to work towards their goals if they can build their inner strength and make the best of what they have,” she shared.

(Pix by Anuruddha Medawattegedara)

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage