SLYO USA | Operation Rise Above II 2021

On June 5th, the Sri Lankan Youth Organization and Project POH teamed up to hand out school backpacks filled with essential school supplies, toys, and duffle bags to the youth of the San Fernando Valley. The operation took place at Magaly’s Tamales and Mexican Grill and was a success yet again.

There were many generous donors involved that helped make this event a success. Kinecta Credit Union provided volunteers to help pack and hand out backpacks. They also distributed goodie bags and free ice cream to the community. Yasiel Puig’s Wild Horse Foundation gave out baby formula to underprivileged families, the Boys and Girls Club provided volunteers, and Team Rugby LA donated funds toward the event! A huge thank you to all the volunteers of SLYO, we couldn’t have done it without you all! Thank you!

This event, apart from providing resources, was about creating personal connections with community members. The age groups ranged from babies to 17-year-olds, and all were incredibly eager to receive toys and school supplies no matter the age! The happiness from the kids radiated onto the volunteers, making it a fun time all around.


“There’s nothing like seeing children and families having a fun time surrounded by people who truly believe in community partnership. We were honored to be invited by SLYO to participate in Operation Rise Above II and we look forward to bringing the event to our own community in Oxnard and Ventura County, and to partner with local businesses and organizations.” -Luis Guereca CDR

“It was truly an honor and privilege to attend SYLO’s invitation to participate in Operation Rise Above II. I was so impressed with all of the volunteers, community partners, and friends for taking time to come together for the benefit of children and families. The positive synergy at the event was amazing and I look forward to continuing our partnership with SYLO to bring this event to Ventura County and Oxnard on August 14, 2021!

Congratulations on a successful event which brought so much happiness to children and families!” – Jack Hinojosa CDR See Less June 7 at 2:24 PM

SUCCESS STORY!! Nirosh Mataraarachchi, First-Generation Sri Lankan-American, accepted to over 5 Top-Ranked U.S. Medical Schools, including full-ride Scholarships to the Nation’s Top Schools.

Nirosh Mataraarachchi was born and raised in Los Angeles, California to immigrant parents, Piyal and Janitha Mataraarachchi. Starting from his early childhood and beyond, Nirosh cultivated a passion for teaching, a desire to connect with others, and an understanding of social determinants of health.

As a future physician, Nirosh intends to connect with each patient to first understand who they are as people and what other factors in their life are contributing to their diagnoses. He hopes that by meeting the diverse needs of his patients, he can then empower them to make informed decisions.

Today, Nirosh has accomplished great feats and achievements. Nirosh graduated John Burroughs high school at the top of his class in 2016 and was granted several acceptances to universities throughout the U.S. Nirosh attended the University of California, (UC) San Diego, due to its highly ranked Biology program (#1 in Neurosciences at the time), the vast amount of research in both Basic Science and Translational work, the vast array of clinical opportunities available, a generous scholarship, and its proximity to family/home.

Nirosh was highly involved during his four years at UC San Diego. He was President of a Pre-Health organization on campus where he founded several initiatives to help educate underserved youth on health-risk behaviors as he led a committee of undergraduate students to collaborate and develop seminars. Furthermore, Nirosh was the Founding President of the inaugural Sri Lankan Students Association (SLSA) on his campus, and he helped co-found several SLSAs at sister UC campuses, in an effort to bolster community and belonging for other Sri Lankan students pursuing higher education. Following his passion for education and teaching, Nirosh was also a Teaching Assistant for three years, where he helped teach several upper-division Biology and Psychology courses at UC San Diego, like Metabolic Biochemistry, Human Physiology, Cell Biology, and Behavioral Neuroscience. Nirosh also continued playing American Football, as he did for all four years of high school, and cutting his roommates’ hair throughout college as a Barber. Outside of his extensive extracurricular involvements, Nirosh thoroughly enjoyed his time volunteering in several hospitals and working as both a Medical Scribe and Clinic Coordinator.

Remarkably, Nirosh demonstrated incredible academic excellence as he completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neuroscience with a Minor in Psychology within an extraordinary three years in 2019, graduating Summa Cum Laude, the highest academic distinction placing him in the top 1% of his class. Nirosh received several honors and awards during his undergraduate, including the highly competitive Gabriele Wienhausen Biological Sciences Award, entrance into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and the Top Honor’s Research Presentation Award at the 2019 Biology Research Showcase. Within one year after graduating, Nirosh completed a Master of Science degree in Biology with emphases in Molecular and Biomedical Science at UC San Diego in 2020, where he continued his Senior Honors Thesis into his Master’s Thesis on Genetic Cardiac Disease. Upon entrance to his Master’s program, Nirosh was awarded the 2019 Diversity Fellowship due to the barriers he overcame in pursuit of his education and his efforts to improve educational access and quality of life for diverse groups at UC San Diego.

Nirosh’s most recent and commendable achievements have been his acceptances to the most prestigious and highly ranked medical schools in the US. To this date, entrance into U.S. medical schools remains the most difficult and competitive admissions process in the U.S. as many elite institutions have acceptance rates of less than 4%, accepting only the top applicants who demonstrate academic excellence, dedication to service, and a passion for medicine and other interests. Nirosh was accepted to 6 medical schools, 3 of which are of the U.S. News & World Report 2022 Top 10 Medical Schools. Within his acceptances, Nirosh was selected for the most prestigious merit-based Geffen Scholarship at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine and the highest scholarship awarded at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, both of which fully cover the cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, and cost of living. For reference, UCLA received 11,778 applications, 175 students were selected to matriculate, and only 25% of the incoming class were selected for the prestigious Geffen Scholarship. Both UCLA and UCSF Schools of Medicine have acceptance rates close to 2%.

Nirosh is beyond honored, grateful, and ecstatic to have the opportunity to attend medical school and to treat his future patients holistically. Despite his own apparent aptitude and extraordinary work ethic, Nirosh attributes his successes to his overwhelmingly supportive family and mentors, as he states “I am nothing without the support and love of my parents, peers, and mentors. My parents, specifically, emphasized the importance of education, what it means to work hard, and how to show compassion and care to all. Their incredible sacrifices and teachings have helped shape who I am today.”

After much thought, Nirosh will be attending the UCSF School of Medicine, one of the most, if not the most highly ranked medical school in the nation. UCSF was ranked #2 in primary care, #4 in research, and was the only medical school ranked in the top 5 of all 8 specialty areas surveyed. Nirosh plans to practice in Internal Medicine first, before possibly specializing in Cardiology, Gastroenterology, or Oncology. Of significance, UCSF was ranked #1 for its Internal Medicine residency program, in front of Harvard University. To this date, UCSF has remained the #1 public university medical school in the US for over ten consecutive years due to its excellent clinical education, extraordinary faculty, and world-renowned research.

We share this news, today, in an effort to not only showcase and congratulate our fellow Lankan, Nirosh Mataraarachchi, on his incredible achievements but to also inspire and motivate other Sri Lankan students aspiring to attend medical school and practice medicine in the U.S. Please welcome us in congratulating Nirosh!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.


Sri Lankan American New Chief Of Staff Rohini Kosoglu appointed for Kamala Harris!

Sen. Kamala Harris is making a key staffing change ahead of a holiday season in which she’ll be mulling a decision on a presidential run. On Monday, Harris announced Rohini Kosoglu as her new chief of staff. Kosoglu, who is Sri Lankan-American, enters the position as the only Asian-American woman currently serving as a U.S. senator’s chief of staff — and she tells Bustle that she’s optimistic about Congress becoming more diverse in 2019.

Kosoglu’s promotion from deputy chief of staff reflects a diversity among Harris’ staffers that isn’t matched by all her Democratic colleagues. And the numbers bear that out. According to a 2017 report released by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, most senators from the party employ women staffers, but an overwhelming number of staffers are white. At the time that report was released, Harris’ office employed the second-highest number of people of color, behind only Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz’s office. The newly minted chief of staff tells Bustle that it’s important for lawmakers and senior congressional staff to reflect the demographics of the country.

“I think it’s important that when we advance diversity [in Congress], we also advance the ability to address many issues in front of us,” Kosoglu says. “Our staff reflects California — the makeup of California, as well as the country.”

Beverly High Alumnus Runs for Los Angeles Community College District

Chatura De Silva, a Beverly High Class of 2008 graduate, is running for the Los Angeles Community College District.

De Silva said that if he is elected, he wants to focus on several issues including outreach to the youth and helping promote the completion of college.

“There’s a stigma that people have towards community college and its not as exciting as when [students] think of university. I want to try to see how I could really Chatura De Silva make that atmosphere more appealing to the youth and make them see it as an option,” De Silva said. “If you have the proper resources, you could really follow your dream.”

De Silva said his mother was killed by a drunk driver in 2010. He had been determined to finish his undergraduate degree at CSUN at the time, but was placed on academic probation. He took classes at Pierce College to get back on track, he said.

“[Community college] gave me the opportunity to get myself back up, so I owe a lot of my success to [it],” he said. His vision for the LACCD includes estabulating events where there is more interaction between teachers and students and make classes without stressing.”He is a project manager for the Sri Lankan Youth Organization, a non profit group dedicated to supporting Sri Lankan youth. He is also the founder and CEO of Project Pursuit of Happiness, a non profit charitable organization.

De Silva is running for Seat 3 on the LACCD, which is currently occupied by David Vela. The election will take place on November 3.

for more information:Go to:

Sri Lankan Pioneers

Sri Lanka Foundation wants to celebrate families!

We have very exciting news, introducing a new way to connect with Sri Lankans across America and we need your help to launch this project.

All of the information we receive will be compiled into a directory to be used to locate an individual, a family, or even your ancestors across the U.S.

To get started, we would appreciate it if you could take the time to fill this form out with your families. Scroll down to get started:

For the first time in Sri Lankan-American history, more than 50 students from the Sri Lankan-American community will perform at Disneyland

On November 16th, students from the Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts will stagger the Disneyland California Adventure Park through to the Hollywood Backlot Stage.

This spectacular 30-minute performance will include traditional Sri Lankan folk music, dance items, and a live drum act. This ensemble is directed by Lal Thilakarathna and Choreographed by Umendra Kahadawaarachchi.

Disneyland’s performance will serve to further Dr. Walter Jayasinghe’s vision of promoting Sri Lankan culture in the United States and globally.

Join us to witness this magnificent performance on November 16th, at 11:30 am at the Hollywood Backlot Stage, Disney California Adventure Park.

Young Professionals Happy Hours in Washington

The SLAWDC Young Professionals Networks hosted three happy hours this Spring: the first was at Prequel in downtown Washington on March 27. The event saw over twenty Sri Lankan-American young professionals and friends in the DC metro area, many of whom were meeting for the first time. The second was held at Rock Bottom in Bethesda on May 15 and the third back in Washington at Bar Deco in Chinatown on June 12.

Courtesy of SLAWDC

Calling New Talent for Sri Lanka Day 2018

Sri Lanka Day returns to Pasadena in July and once again we are looking to showcase new talent on our Sri Lanka Day Stage & Parade. We want you to help us create the festival of festivals. We are looking for musicians, dancers, drummers, choreographers, dance troupes and acts that are interactive, that really draw people into the performance in some way. The Sri Lanka Foundation team is looking for new artists to be a part of the Cultural Show from 1pm to 6pm and performers for the night parade from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.

Sri Lanka Day will run throughout the day on Saturday, July 14. This year we will be bigger and better than ever before. We’re extending the event, adding 7,000 sq ft of additional space. On July 14, we’ll transform the City Hall in Pasadena to a hive of activity, with traditional dance performances, traditional drumming and percussion performances, musical performances on stage. The booths around the stage will host workshops, cooking demonstrations and give a chance for everyone to try an array of authentic Sri Lanka cuisine. In the evening the grand “Pageant of Lanka” will take over Colorado Boulevard, with magnificent theater elephants, colorful floats and talented performers.

Come show off your talents and join Sri Lanka Day. Contact us on (323) 905-4753 for more information.

Dilini Seneviratne takes Kandyan Dancing to BBC

On 14th January 2017, BBC Asian Network’s popular radio show hosted by Ashanti Omkar explored Kandyan dancing through British Sri Lankan Kandyan dancer, Dilini Seneviratne, for the first time in the shows’ history. The unique radio show itself is one of a kind, covering South India, Sri Lanka and the diaspora, in entertainment since it launched. Hosted by the lovely Ashanti Omkar – coincidentally born in Kandy, Sri Lanka had always wanted to discover the specialist dance style in her show. Dilini Seneviratne, a Cyber security consultant at Wipro Ltd. stopped by the BBC Broadcasting house to share her journey along with a traditional Kandyan drummer Aruna Shantha Kotawella. Dilini started off the interview introducing Kandyan dancing as what is considered to be Sri Lanka’s most classical dance style, deriving from the royal capital of the country, Kandy. She went onto describe how Kandyan dancing features an intricate system of rhythm and how dancers are traditionally accompanied by cymbals and drums during performances. Dilini then explains how she had always been passionate about this classical dance style and reveals her dance teachers over the years Miss Kumudu Perera, Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake and her personal inspiration – the Channa Upuli dance troupe based in Sri Lanka as the foundations of her dance life. Since being at University of Southampton, undergoing her bachelor degree, she has started a classical dance society, Southampton Kandyan & Bharatanatyam Society (SKBD), and the first ever inter-university classical dance competition, THAALA. She teaches Kandyan dancing online through her YouTube channel and regularly blogs about the theory behind Kandyan Dance. She has performed Kandyan dancing at various high profile events and venues in UK including Sri Lankan High Commission, Lord’s Cricket Ground, ICC Champions Trophy, British Airways Sri Lanka launch, Sangakkara – Sir Ian Botham SL Walk Launch and Derana TV in Sri Lanka. Dilini finally ends her interview with a closing note of how Kandyan dancing is underrated around the globe apart from Sri Lanka and all her commitment towards dancing is because she wants it to be known by everyone. Check out her on social media and follow her blog Courtesy of