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Charge to Ranmal Samarasinghe

Good morning and welcome!

I am pleased to introduce you to Ranmal Samarasingha, who was chosen by his classmates as the senior class speaker. It is very hard to get Ranmal to speak himself about his talents and accomplishments, but I am delighted to take on that pleasurable task.

As the culmination of an outstanding academic career, Ranmal is graduating today with... Honors in Economics and Biology and medical school preparation complete.

Ranmal immigrated from Sri Lanka to the U.S. with his family when he was 8, but has retained close ties with his cultural background, studying Sinhalese, ever cognizant of the challenges of development and poverty, and having recently authored a chapter on growing up as a Sri Lankan American in a Fullbright Commission publication, with an article on agricultural development in Sri Lanka under review.

Ranmal's links to Swarthmore date back to 1989 when his parents shared the Swarthmore Cornell Professorship for visiting international scholars.

Over each of the past three summers Ranmal served as a research assistant in the biochemistry labs of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland. And once a graduate, he will move on to the National Institutes of Health to explore the mechanisms that underlie cell growth and that may be harnessed to impede malignancies. He has yet to decide whether to continue to biochemical research or go to medical school, but is sure that in either case addressing the link between degrading economic conditions and disease will be high on his personal agenda for making his mark on a better world.

At Swarthmore, Ranmal lived that commitment to humanity as coordinator for the past three years of S.H.I.P, the largest community service group on campus, which provides meals and other resources to homeless in Philadelphia, and as organizer for the past two years of student assistance to the local community center for the blind.

He further enriched this community as first violinist in the Swarthmore orchestra for the past four years, as bass player for a jazz/blues/hiphop fusion group, a devoted member of the international club's intramural soccer team and an avid long-distance runner.

Ranmal's truly remarkable range of intellect and talent, his personal commitment through economics and through science to a more equitable and healthy world, combined his warmth and modesty, make this College terrifically proud that Ranmal is our student.

I am delighted to welcome him to the podium as the speaker for the Class of 2003.