The Communication Sciences and Disorders Program in the College of Education and Health Professions recently welcomed Samadhi Devayalage of Sri Lanka to Northwest Arkansas.

Devayalage is an International Fulbright Scholar. The CDIS program at the University of Arkansas has a strong history of collaboration with the International Fulbright Scholar program. This year, the CDIS 2019 International Fulbright Scholar, Gayanthi Kodituwakku, also from Sri Lanka, was able to welcome and directly mentor Devayalage during her first week on campus.

“I felt at home the moment I entered this hallowed university because of the reception I received from the new faculty, administrators and friends,” Devayalage said. “I realized at once that it is a welcome call for me. My mentor, Gayanthi, made me feel the presence of my family. Her usual warmth gave me much confidence to start a new life 13,000 miles away from my home country in Sri Lanka.”

Kodituwakku recalled her first year at the U of A.

Fulbright International Scholars pose at the University of Arkansas Student Union, CDIS 2020

International Fulbright Scholars Gayanthi Kodituwakku, left, and Samadhi Devayalage

“Being the only international student in my graduate program cohort, my biggest fear was how I would mingle with my classmates and to get along with the completely novel system,” she said. “Luckily, it wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. Everyone in my CDIS program, including both academic staff and classmates, were and still are being very accommodating to make my transition to the foreign system smooth and to give me a joyful and valuable learning experience away from home.

Kodituwakku said she’s grateful for professors Rachel Glade and Christine Holyfield for being “amazing mentors to me since the beginning.”

Holyfield commented, “As a second year student, Gayanthi has made important contributions to the CDIS program. She has distinguished herself as a student, and is currently completing a thesis based on her original research work.”

The research revolves around understanding how intervention that’s conducted remotely can help adults who have speech or language limitations due to stroke.

“The opportunity to have Fulbright Scholars in our graduate program is not taken for granted,” said Glade, the CDIS program director. “International students and scholars not only make our program stronger; they also make our community stronger.”

Glade said faculty look forward to the contributions Devayalage is sure to make as she gets established in the program and is proud of the significant impact that Kodituwakku has already had in her short time on campus.