Defying the odds: Sanjaya earns his master's degree despite losing his vision

08 July 2024

In a rural village nestled amidst the verdant landscapes of Sri Lanka, Sanjaya spent his early years navigating challenges that would shape his future in ways he never imagined. Born into a modest family, Sanjaya’s daily journey to school, a ten-kilometre trek through rugged terrain, symbolised his determination to pursue education against all odds.

Sanjaya’s life took a pivotal turn when, later in his youth, he gradually lost his vision. Undeterred by this new challenge, he continued his education with unwavering resolve, supported closely by his youngest brother Dhanushka, whose care and companionship became integral to Sanjaya’s journey. Sanjaya and Dhanushka’s close bond, rooted in their shared upbringing and mutual support, continued through their two-year stay in Australia while Sanjaya pursued his studies.

Years later, equipped with a Master of Public Policy, Sanjaya became a beacon of inspiration. As the first in his family and village to achieve such a milestone, he found himself not only breaking barriers but also reshaping perceptions of disability and capability.

Reflecting on his journey, Sanjaya shared insights into his motivations and passions. “I was born and raised in a rural village, a place of scarce resources and limited opportunities,” he explained. “My curiosity for knowledge, fueled by my experiences of poverty and disability, led me to delve into policy framing, evidence-based decision-making, and global governance.”

Choosing to study at Crawford School was a strategic decision for Sanjaya, driven by its reputation as a hub of global policy excellence. “As a public sector employee, understanding public policy was crucial for me to contribute effectively,” he emphasized. “Crawford’s diverse community offered a platform where perspectives from around the world converged, enriching my learning experience.”

During his time at Crawford, Sanjaya thrived amidst a supportive environment. “The classes were vibrant with discussions,” he recalled. “My teachers not only imparted knowledge but also advocated for accessibility, ensuring I had the tools needed to succeed.”

Sanjaya’s academic journey was marked by profound moments, such as during Dr Elise Klein’s Foundation in Public Policy course assignment on professional values, which left a lasting impact. “Reflecting on my values a year later was a powerful reminder of my growth,” he shared.

At Crawford, Sanjaya excelled academically and significantly contributed to the ANU Digital Access Disability program. In addition, he contributed to developing accessibility guidelines for teaching and learning at Crawford School, which are awaiting publication, underscoring his commitment to inclusivity and accessibility in education.

As he was preparing to return home, Sanjaya expressed gratitude to the Australia Awards team and Crawford School for their support. “Their assistance has been invaluable,” he acknowledged. “I am eager to contribute back to my community and continue my academic journey, driven by a passion to create meaningful change.”

Sanjaya and his brother Dhanushka are now back in Colombo, where Sanjaya works for the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Looking ahead, Sanjaya plans to apply his learnings to enhance public service in Sri Lanka. “The challenges posed by AI and global migration require innovative policy solutions,” he observed. “My goal is to bridge these local insights with global perspectives, advocating for inclusive policies that benefit all.”

From all of us at Crawford, congratulations on your graduation and your remarkable achievement, Sanjaya!

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Updated:  23 July 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team