As a young man who worked as an entomologist and a tea pest research manager at a tea research institute on a mountaintop in his home country of Sri Lanka, Dr. Sampath Walgama says the idea of one day raising a family and settling down in Canada was the furthest thought in his mind. Sampath, who went on to study for his PhD in Australia, immigrated to Canada in 2010 and eventually settled down to lay roots in Lethbridge.
“I studied at a research centre on the top of a mountain in Sri Lanka and it was cold up there,” he recalls. “The cold weather there prepared me for the weather here, and I am used to it here now. I really enjoy living in Lethbridge.”
Sampath and his wife, Manori, raised two children, Sam (Samila) and Udari, who both graduated from Lethbridge schools and then went on to further their education at Lethbridge College. Sam graduated from the General Arts and Sciences program in 2020, while Udari accepted her Practical Nurse diploma at the Fall 2021 Convocation. At this fall’s ceremony, graduates followed COVID protocols as they crossed the stage to receive their credentials, while their families and friends watched and celebrated online.
Udari says she was overjoyed upon receiving her diploma: “It was a great honour to receive my diploma from Lethbridge College,” she says. “Knowing that I was going to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives, that my credentials would be official and having the letters LPN next to my name – that really was what was going through my mind at the time.”
Sam watched the ceremony online with his parents and remembered that same feeling of pride and accomplishment in 2020 when he earned his diploma.
“I learned so much and there are so many opportunities” at Lethbridge College, he says. Earning a diploma “was a great feeling. I’m now the lead rental technician at Home Depot. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.”
Sampath, who has an extensive background in education including a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Entomology (Pest Management) from the University of Queensland, Australia, acknowledges his wife Manori for her support. “My wife has always stood by me and my children,” he says. “She is very proud of our accomplishments and encourages us in everything we do.”
Sampath works as a lab technologist at Green Prairie International Inc. in Coaldale. He is also developing a course for Lethbridge College’s new Agricultural Sciences degree program and will deliver the course in the Winter 2022 semester.
He acknowledges many people who have helped further his career. His path from the mountaintops of Sri Lanka to down under in Australia to making a home in southern Alberta has been a rewarding one, and Sampath, Manori and their children are still on their journey together.
They will go far.
Are you a multi-generational Lethbridge College family? If at least three members across one or more generations attended Lethbridge College, let us know by emailing WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca. We’d love to profile you.