During the Class of 2021’s May 22 Commencement ceremony, Alumni Association President Richard Bakare ’03 made an unexpected announcement.
“Earlier this month, a wonderful member of the class of 2001, celebrating the 20th year since her own graduation, stepped forward with an incredible offer to recognize each member of the class of 2021,” he said from the podium. “It is my pleasure to announce that on behalf of Harsinie Panditaratne and her firm, HP Law, LLC, each 2021 graduate will be receiving a gift of $100.”
“Oglethorpe gave me five of the happiest years of my life – the Core curriculum, politics and English classes remain a vivid and powerful memory,” shared Panditaratne, who watched the presentation with her family via the ceremony’s livestream.
“While at Oglethorpe, I was an Oglethorpe Oxford and UPS James E. Casey Scholarship recipient. I would have been saddled with student loan debt if it were not for generous donors who made my scholarships possible. I vowed at the age of 18 that I would repay those scholarship dollars back to Oglethorpe so that future generations could hopefully have the same opportunities I had. When I thought about this challenging year and how different your senior year was from my own, an idea formed about how I might make just a little bit of a difference and help you as you embark on a new adventure beyond the Oglethorpe gates.”
Panditaratne grew up just outside of Atlanta in Smyrna, and joined the campus community as a freshman in 1996. While at Oglethorpe, Harsinie double-majored in political science and English, and minored in philosophy. Harsinie was the Presiding Officer of the university’s Academic Honor Council, a member of the Senate and Programming Boards, a Tri Sigma, and a student teacher for Freshman Orientation classes in political theory and policy.
After Oglethorpe, Harsinie graduated from Temple University School of Law and studied international law and policy in Rome, Italy. Currently, she lives and works in Philadelphia with her husband and two small children. In 2015, she founded her own firm, HP Law, LLC, which specializes in the representation of employers and insurance companies in workers’ compensation.
“I realize this has been a challenging year for many and I am inspired by your resilience and the spirit of triumph which has led you here today!” Panditaratne wrote to the Class of 2021 graduates. “My gift is a small one, but I hope it will help you as you leave Oglethorpe. I also hope it will inspire you to one day give back to future Oglethorpe students who will continue our tradition of excellence.”
“Throughout history, great minds have found opportunities to improve humankind because of the adversity that faced them. I look forward to hearing about the great things you will do given our current challenges. I hope to meet in the quad in 20 years so that you can share your accomplishments and we can celebrate the class of 2041 and the future of Oglethorpe together!”