Iconic Students : Ambassador with a world view

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shanika Perera

Whether she's riding her horse to the midwest championship, rebuilding tsunami-damaged homes in Sri Lanka or selling millions of dollars of software during an internship, Shanika Perera loves the challenge.

Perera, Mahtomedi, is a St. Cloud State University marketing major who, in a vast understatement says, she is "involved in lots of different organizations."

Besides the marketing major, Perera is pursuing a minor in mass communications. She expects to graduate this fall.

She is currently taking part in her second internship, this one with HealthPartners of Central Minnesota where she is involved in event planning. "I really enjoy it," she said.

Her first internship was with Epicor Software in the Twin Cities. Epicor is a partner of Microsoft and Perera's role was to sell business software on the telephone. It's a tough job, but one that Perera excelled at, selling more than $10 million in software during her time there. It was good enough for Perera to be offered a full-time job, but "I want to keep my options open," she said.

When she's not in school, Perera loves riding horse. In high school she was the midwest champion for Equestrian Jumper Riding.

And if that weren't enough, she was a part of an effort that led to the rebuilding of 50 homes in Sri Lanka after a devastating tsunami.

"It was a group effort," Perera is quick to point out. "I participated with my parents and some friends. My parents (Mithula and Udi Perera) came to me to see if I wanted to get involved."

Perera started by helping raise money through an organization that she began called MN Friendship Foundation. She asked her high school classmates during lunch hours for donations. She orchestrated Persian rug sales. All of that led to a village of 50 homes being reopened. She also received the Minnesota Woman of Achievement Award for those efforts.

During her visits to Sri Lanka, her parents' native land, they met a young boy who eventually became her adopted brother.

Naturally, her parents are proud of their daughter.

"Shani applied to several universities but she wanted a medium-sized college," her father said. "She is really blossoming there and we are happy with her experiences."

Perera said she liked several aspects about St. Cloud State.

"I picked St. Cloud because the Herberger College of Business is nationally accredited, the tuition prices are low, the commute to the cities is convenient, and the campus struck me as a diverse liberal school with a strong history of success."

Perera has come so far since the days that she first visited St. Cloud State that she now helps others decide on whether the University is a good fit for them. She works as a student ambassador in the Admissions Office.

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