Originally from Sri Lanka, Viraj Amarasinghe, joined the Hillsborough Community College family in 2017.
But before becoming a Hawk, he served as a Buddhist monk for many years at Mahamevnawa Meditation Monastery, where he focused on teaching meditation and mindfulness. In 2012, he was invited to bring his teachings to the U.S. and help open Sunshine Meditation Center, located in Tampa, FL.
After five years in Florida, he resigned from the organization and officially left the monkhood. For him, it was time to pursue a traditional education and see in what ways he could help more people without an organization or religious background.
In fall 2017, Viraj enrolled at HCC to pursue his higher education and now, at 33 years old, he has graduated with his associate in arts degree with a computer science engineering transfer track.
At HCC, Viraj became the 2019-2020 president of the Ybor City Campus Alpha Beta Beta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, became a regional officer for the Florida service office of PTK, a member of the HCC Honors Program, a member of Phi Beta Lambda and joined the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
As a PTK chapter president, he focused on continuing community service projects and maintaining the chapter title of regional service chapter in Florida, a title the chapter has now held for the past three years. Recently, at the Florida College System All Florida Academic Team Ceremony, the Alpha Beta Beta PTK chapter was acknowledged for its commitment to community service and received the Chancellor’s Student Service Chapter Award. Viraj was also awarded as the regional winner of the annual speech contest. His speech centered around his journey from homelessness to PTK chapter president and business owner. He will be competing at the international level via a virtual competition to be held soon.
“Being a Phi Theta Kappa president was big for me. I enjoyed helping the students, and I wanted to give something back to HCC. I really wanted our chapter to remain in its standing so I worked hard and made sure HCC was a name people knew out in the community.”
During the college’s transition to an online environment due to COVID-19, Viraj launched an online workshop series that educated his fellow PTK members on getting the most out of their membership and reaping all the benefits provided to them. As chapter president, he has worked alongside his advisor, Dr. Myria Evans, and Ybor City Campus President, Dr. Clark, to work on creating a scholarship that would waive the one-time PTK membership fee for a select few students each year. This scholarship is an ongoing project.
Outside of his education and campus involvements, Viraj is a small business owner. He has opened up Sunny Tech Academy, a computer technology tutoring service that helps children and adults who lack computer skills or have a desire to understand modern technology. He also owns Sunny Media Marketing Solutions, a web design and marketing agency.
Viraj is thankful for his time at HCC and the endless opportunities that were presented to him. He will continue at HCC as a non-degree seeking student to complete two courses needed to transfer to his desired program. In spring 2021, he will pursue his bachelor of arts degree in computer engineering at either the University of South Florida or the University of Central Florida.