Final year student receives The Diana Award

Six years ago, Priyanka Vairavasundaram founded and ran a program for underprivileged and underperforming students called SPARK Students' Success Program. The program focuses on vision setting, the development of leadership skills, effective communication and learning skills, and nature appreciation. Priyanka's active social actions and humanitarian efforts did not go unrecognised. On 1 July 2020, she was honoured with The Diana Award - an award to honour Princess Diana's belief that youths have the power to change the world.

"SPARK is a students' enrichment program designed to unleash the true potential of students. There are similar programs in the market, but they are not affordable," stated Priyanka.

Growing up, Priyanka was regarded as an average student, who always looked down on herself. Attending a similar program changed her life. "This inspired me to pass on the same kind of enlightenment to other kids who are experiencing crucial challenges in their often deprived and difficult lives," she shared.

Her father, Vairavasundaram Rajasegaran, a former national sportsman, used to deliver motivational talks in schools through a program called 'Zero to Hero'. The program was designed to uplift students through martial arts and sports. The impact the program had on the kids motivated Priyanka to develop SPARK.

"Finance was our primary constraint. We conduct our SPARK programs at the facilities of the higher learning institutions. We provide nutritious food and beverages, materials and T-shirts to the participants. All these costs money. We charge those who can afford and seek financial support from businesses and organisations to facilitate our programs."

Priyanka was nominated for The Diana Award by Professor Dato Dr Anwar Fazal, a Right Livelihood Award recipient for his work in promoting and protecting the public interest in 1982.

When asked about her reaction upon receiving news of the award, Priyanka said: "Simply ecstatic! I felt honoured that a big organisation recognised my work among other young change-makers around the world".

Priyanka had always wanted to follow her father's footsteps, who is her role model. "My father has chartered my phenomenal successes by guiding and supporting me at every stage of my journey. Since my younger days, I have always witnessed my dad caring for stray animals and helping out the needy and poor. His altruistic and compassionate nature has always influenced me into wanting to be someone like him. Probably that is why I love investing in the life of others."

"My mother's attention, love, and care were always readily available for both my sister and me. My sister, Kowsalya, is my best friend. She renders excellent support for my programs and does most of the work behind the curtains. Nothing would have been possible without my family."

The final-year engineering student has always dreamed of studying abroad but stated that studying at Monash University Malaysia has been a unique and highly rewarding experience.

"I chose chemical engineering because it is a field with a wide scope of industries to explore such as oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, nanotechnology, chemicals and catalysts, waste management, water treatment, renewable energy and many more. Its curriculum is so broad that it makes you knowledgeable on so many aspects of engineering. Chemical engineering is an essential and indispensable part of every industry. The opportunities are just endless."

Priyanka hopes to someday become a world-class enrichment trainer, author and leading motivational speaker. "I want everyone to be able to realise their true potential and become their best possible self. It gives me immense happiness to witness people realising their dreams and achieving success in their lives."

Well, Priyanka, it gives us immense happiness to witness students like you making a difference in the world. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Established in memory of Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, and supported by The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex, The Diana Award award is given out by the charity of the same name to honour Princess Diana's belief that youths have the power to change the world.