Student Spotlight: From Halfway Around the World to Texas Tech
Binari Witanapatirana is part of a Sri Lankan legacy of Red Raiders.
Written by Lauren Kozlovsky
For most students who attend Texas Tech University, the average drive from their hometown to campus is five to six hours. For Binari Witanapatirana, the drive, if it was even possible, would be 138 hours.
Originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka, Binari moved halfway around the world to attend Texas Tech.
So, what would make a student move that far from home? Janaki Sugathasda, Binari’s grandmother and a Texas Tech employee, influenced her to apply, and Binari couldn’t be happier as a Red Raider.
“Being an international student, the college search was a little different for me,” said Binari, a senior graphic communications major. “My plan was set to attend a university in New York after I completed a summer art intensive program, but when I finished it, New York didn’t seem to be the right fit for me at the time.”
Janaki works as an office assistant in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Originally from Sri Lanka, she came to Texas Tech with her daughter – Binari’s aunt – who was a graduate student at the time, and she has lived in the U.S. for the past 16 years.
“I love having my family close to me, which also includes Binari’s sister, Kay (Witanapatirana) who is currently at Texas Tech as well,” Janaki said.
Binari is far from home, but is now a part of a new family, the Red Raider family.
Home Away From Home
Binari with grandmother and Texas Tech employee, Janaki Sugathasda
“When I got here, I absolutely loved it,” Binari said. “I think it’s really important to attend a university where you’re not just a face in the crowd, and I’m glad my grandmother helped me see that Texas Tech is a place that makes you feel welcomed.”
Now, Binari’s family is full of Red Raiders. Her aunt graduated from Texas Tech with two doctorates and teaches at the University of Dallas. Her aunt’s daughter, Binari’s cousin, graduated from Texas Tech last year with a bachelor’s degree.
Every Christmas break, Binari and her sister travel with their grandmother to visit family in Sri Lanka. Due to the distance (20-hour flight), this is a once-a-year trip that they make the most of.
But Texas Tech has not only become a second home for Binari, she also has experienced academic success. Majoring in graphic communications has given her many opportunities to focus on her passion in communication design. The goal of the program is to have an extensive portfolio to present to future employers. Binari said it is a very competitive program because it is a small major, but it offers hands-on experience in publication design, web design and other areas.
“Since Sri Lanka is a much smaller country that doesn’t have as many choices for universities, it is very competitive,” said Binari. “There isn’t a huge variety of majors offered either; for example my major, communication design, isn’t offered in Sri Lanka.”
Eventually, Binari would like to move back to Sri Lanka, but for now her future plans are to take on New York after graduation and pursue her passion as a graphic designer. She said she is finally ready for that experience because of her education through Texas Tech.
Getting to Know
What has been your favorite memory at Texas Tech?
I’ve never experienced anything like a Texas Tech football game and that is something I will never forget. The atmosphere and the fans are like nothing I’ve seen before.
Is there a professor or someone who has helped make this a memorable experience?
All the professors I had in the graphic design program have made this experience more than what I could have asked for. I honestly know everything I’ve learned about graphic design thus far because of them. They got me excited about my career choice while making my experience memorable.
Where is your favorite spot on campus?
Student Leisure Pool at the Recreation Center
What is your favorite Texas Tech tradition?
Carol of Lights. Everything about this Texas Tech tradition is beautiful. The lighting ceremony where all the buildings surrounding Memorial Circle are illuminated in red, white and orange lights that make it a mesmerizing experience.
What do you love most about being a Red Raider?
The one thing I love the most about being a Red Raider is our school spirit.