Akalanka Galappaththi accompanied his wife from Sri Lanka to Canada, where he decided to embark on an educational journey of his own, pursuing a Master of Science program at uLethbridge.
What is your most memorable uLethbridge experience?
I can't pick one because there were a lot. The first time I came to the university to attend the New Student Orientation, it reminded my alma mater. The view of the coulees from the UHall and the library windows, the long walk from the bus loop to my office took me back down memory lane. Spending time with my colleagues doing coursework, watching my roommates enjoy Last Clash Bash, playing board games in the International Centre, or having coffee with fellow grad students and staff members in the department, I felt that I was involved in the university community, not just doing a degree.
Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your uLethbridge experience?
My supervisor, Dr. John Anvik, is one of the greatest people that I met at the university. I felt so lucky that I was able to work with him because he is a great researcher and a wonderful teacher. He was a great mentor and a kind person. He understood the work-life balance which made my two years at uLethbridge less stressful. His encouragement drives me to succeed in my academics and in my life.
What is the most important lesson you learned?
Planning ahead was the most important lesson. As a graduate student, there were a lot of things on my plate: completing course work, doing research, applying for grants and scholarships, writing research papers, teaching labs and tutorials, and graduating on time. It was a lot and there were times I felt I was falling behind.
With proper planning and with the help of my supervisor, I was able to focus on the important tasks to complete.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
I liked the experience that I had at ULethbridge. Therefore, I decided to do a PhD and do further research in the field of software engineering. As a master's student, I received opportunities to attend research conferences and network with other researchers in the field. That helped me to reach out and showcase my research capacity. I got accepted to the University of Alberta and I am currently working in the Software Maintenance and Reuse research group.
What advice would you give to students who are about to begin their graduate studies journeys?
At first graduate studies could be intimidating because you are committing yourself two to four-plus years in school. But during that time you get to do things you like. Graduate studies allow you to put your new ideas to work and connect with like-minded people. Finding an advisor who is doing research in a field that you like will help you to succeed in grad studies.
My master's supervisor had a great impact on my success at uLethbridge.
Did you receive scholarships during your time at uLethbridge, and if so, how did they help you?
I received the Alberta Innovates Tech-Future (AITF) scholarship, which helped me immensely to continue my graduate studies. I was genuinely relieved to receive the funding because I was able to focus on my research instead of worrying about my financial status.
How did studying in Canada at uLethbridge change you or change your life?
Canadian universities provide world-class education. The University of Lethbridge is a reputed university that has strong academic programs. uLethbridge is a multicultural environment that provides a diverse experience in academics and in extracurricular activities. The experience and the training I received from my degree allowed me to promote myself as a worthy PhD candidate when I was applying for admission.