Above: Mihiri Tillakaratne in 2008.
ON THIS DATE in 2005, eighteen-year-old Mihiri Tillakaratne of Mission Hills, California, received a Global Action Award for fund-raising efforts that helped generate $2,500 to help build a pre-school and community center in Sri Lanka after a tsunami devastated the country in 2004.
Tillakaratne also launched a drive that collected more than 20,000 pairs of eyeglasses for Sri Lankans who needed them. She went on to found Empower a Village, a nonprofit organization that provides breast cancer awareness workshops, mobile eye clinics, and English and computer literacy programs to villagers in rural Sri Lanka.
Her parents are from Sri Lanka.
Tillakaratne attended Harvard after high school. In 2008, she was named grand prize winner of the ASPIRE (Asian Sisters Participating In Reaching Excellence) award for female high school or college students of Asian American descent.