Kevin Wijayawickrama, a first-generation immigrant from Sri Lanka, seeks to give back to the Santa Ana community through philanthropic leadership, mentorship and creating opportunity for SAC students
(Santa Ana, CA) - On paper, Kevin Wijayawickrama is an unlikely success story.
And yet, the newest Santa Ana College Foundation Board Member is just that. In spite of so many odds stacked against him -- a first-generation immigrant from Sri Lanka, arriving alone as just a teenager, adrift in a new country and with little family to speak of -- he is now an advisory principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP, part of a global professional services network. He is also an alumnus of Santa Ana College.
The biggest hurdle he had to overcome to success, he said, was himself.
“My self-confidence has been my greatest challenge,” he said. “How do you reconcile your own personality in this fast-moving society? But I want to give back what was given to me.”
With the right guidance, mentorship and resources, Wijayawickrama said he went from “basically zero, to where I am today.” He said he hopes to give back to the community that gave him so much -- including his beloved wife who also grew up in Santa Ana, Calif. and is an immigrant from Mexico -- and to create opportunity for SAC students too.
One of the biggest keys to his success and what he hopes to convey to SAC students, Wijayawickrama said, was to define his own brand and strengths, and nurture those areas of his personality. When he looks out into a crowd of students, or when he is working with his mentees, he said he is actively looking for the students who were like him at that stage in life -- perhaps previously overlooked, but full of grit, potential and ready to work hard.
“Everyone told me, I can’t, I couldn’t and I wouldn't,” he said. “And I always had that internal voice that said ‘prove them wrong.’”
As a board member, he said he is committed to connecting with students and faculty and assisting in seeking resources needed to respond to our students’ financial and educational gaps. He said he wants to be on the front lines of the mission of SAC -- encouraging students and faculty to think about the bigger picture of career trajectories, and to facilitate collaboration and mentorship beyond just counselor and student but among students, the faculty and the community-at-large. He also believes in bringing more leaders from high-profile companies and industry into the foundation's mission and philanthropy. There is a lot of promise in all these areas.
“I didn't have some of the basic tools. I didn't have self-esteem, or a true family resource,” he said. “I didn't have anything. I was just a person. I feel like if I can succeed in my life, then (SAC students) can do ten times more.”
The same grit, passion, and determination that motivated Wijayawickrama to career and personal success are what makes him an asset to the SAC Foundation Board, said Christina Romero, Executive Director at Santa Ana College Advancement Office.
“Our philanthropy for students is built on the talent, stories, tenacity, passion, professionalism and leadership that volunteers and board members bring to the table,” she said. “To have (Wijayawickrama) as a board member will no doubt elevate our work, increase our engagement with businesses, industry and students as well as with our constituents at large. It’s such a pleasure to see his infectious spirit already change our work for the better.”
Wijayawickrama has been active in several community organizations including Latino Health Access, an organization that partners with the community to bring health, equity and sustainable change through education, services, consciousness-raising and civic partnership; Hope Builders (Taller San Jose), a group that empowers disconnected young people with job training and life skills needed to move out of poverty and achieve enduring personal and professional success; and the Santa Ana School District through Deloitte’s IMPACT day, an event that provides opportunities to strengthen communities, deepen relationships with each other, and broaden perspectives on pressing social issues. He also spearheaded the multi-year relationship with the Santa Ana School District to be one of the key locations that benefited from the annual IMPACT day for the Orange County Deloitte team.
Wijayawickrama said he truly believes in SAC and its students.
“It's a good incubator for talent who may not have the resources or opportunities in the community,” he said.
Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure.
For additional information about how the Santa Ana College Foundation supports our hard-working students and how you can get involved, please visit www.rtgcampaign.org
and or sac.edu/foundation.
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which turned 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, and provides invaluable workforce training and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 11,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.