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Sivanthini Thiruchelvam


By: Sivanthini Thiruchelvam

My name is Sivanthini Thiruchelvam. I was born and raised in a small village in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Not only did I have a very difficult childhood prior to the civil war but also an on-and-off education. My education there can be described as sporadic; my mother and I were compelled to move a lot, from one refugee camp to another. My school days were usually spent in a bunker, rather than a classroom. I could not at all focus on my studies since I was emotionally stirred by the commotion of the war. Waking up each day continued a mixed blessing; I was happy to be alive only to face the same threats again.

In 1995, however, our fates started to change for the better. My mother and I were sponsored by my father to come to America. Back then, I was not aware of the endless possibilities that this land offered. But I knew it was my only chance for survival, my chance to escape distress, live peacefully, but, more importantly, make something worthwhile of myself. One of many opportunities this land has given me is a stable education, a gift of priceless knowledge. I had a rocky start when I began school here. I had a very tough time not being able to write or speak English. My confidence rose as time went by, but I was still treated as an outcast by my classmates. With my hard work and huge effort, I was able to make the honor roll and be among the top ten in my intermediate school.

High school has been a rewarding experience for me. As soon as I began my freshman year, I fit fine among my classmates. I was accelerated in math and was placed in honor classes. I also became a member of the CIG (Center for Intellectually Gift) program. I worked extra hard and successfully completed 9th and 10th grade with good averages. During my sophomore year, I learned about the College Now program. At the first meeting, I was very much impressed and convinced to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. I learned that by taking College Now courses, I would be able to save money and valuable time.

The college Now courses I have taken are behavioral science, business administration, science and student development. I found them challenging because they were taught at a college level. In behavioral science, we were assigned research projects and term papers. I learned effective time management and how to meet deadlines. We covered all of the social sciences but mainly sociology and anthropology. We were asked to conduct interviews with immigrants who had come a long way. I interviewed my mother, which was heart-rending and painful when you consider that she and I shared the same past. My instructor often praised me for my assays, which always made my day.