Despite being centralized in the deep south, the Auburn Family transcends the community bubble that is Auburn University and can be found all over the world. Saminda Ayeshmantha Gunathilake, or Sam for short, is an international transfer student that was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Although Sam spent most of his life growing up in Colombo, his family currently lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E). Sam attended high school while living in Dubai and always desired to study at a university in the United States.
"I wanted to study in the U.S. for the higher quality of education and to earn a degree from a well-known university," the freshman said.
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Sam knew he wanted to get a degree in mechanical engineering, so when it came time for the search for universities, he discovered that he already had ties to Auburn.
"When I was looking around at universities in the U.S., my aunt and uncle recommended that I look into Auburn University," Sam said. "My aunt and uncle actually lived in the Auburn area for a number of years before moving to Montgomery (Ala.) and going to Auburn would allow me to be close to some relatives while I am studying."
He and his family decided that going to Auburn would be what is best for him and he was soon on his way to the plains. When he arrived here in August of 2012 for the start of school, he realized differences between Auburn and Dubai almost immediately.
"Auburn is a lot smaller than Dubai, but the people here are really friendly and have been really nice to me," Sam said. "When I came to Auburn I knew very little about american football and I was a little overwhelmed at how big the sport is here. People in Auburn really love their football."
Although football may not be his sport, Sam plays a variety of sports including rugby, soccer and tennis. He is currently on the club tennis team and is also pledging a fraternity on campus. In addition to all of this, he is studying mechanical engineering and hopes to potentially become an engineer for a Formula 1 race team.
When he came to Auburn, Sam knew little of what kind of family he was joining. With a full semester now under his belt, Sam is finding himself getting involved on campus and making many friends along the way. With many students like Sam that are apart of the student population, Auburn has extended its family all across the world.
"I am really happy that I chose to come to Auburn University and be an Auburn student," Sam said. "I am excited to see what the rest of my time here has in store for me and I am ready for anything."