Prasanthan Aruchunan a 17-year-old high school student was the first student in Ontario to receive the National Hockey League (NHL) scholarship from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
When he was six years old, Aruchunan, his family fled from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, to seek refuge in Canada during the war.
“These outstanding young people are skating toward a bright future,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “While our Hockey Is For Everyone programs provide the structure, discipline and life lessons that our sport teaches so well, each of our scholarship winners was committed to proving the path to higher education can be paved with ice. We congratulate them for making the most of the opportunity and for earning an NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund academic scholarship.”
“Prasanthan Aruchunan is an outstanding participant, who has demonstrated his dedication to HEROS since he began in Grade 6 as a part of the Jane & Finch HEROS program in Toronto. Prasanthan was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Canada with his family as a young child. In 2010, he jumped at the opportunity to be a part of HEROS and has never looked back since,” HEROs said in a statement.
Prasanthan is incredibly smart. He has obtained an outstanding 94% academic average in his Grade 12 year. With his talent and dedication, he has been accepted to both aerospace and mechanical engineering degree programs commencing in the Fall of 2016. The NHL/Thurgood Marshall Scholarship is vital to bring these academic opportunities to life.
His family relies on social services to get by. His mother is unable to work due to an injury sustained while carrying water from the well back in Sri Lanka and his father’s income is less than 50% of the National Low-Income Cutoff. With these challenges, academia was very likely not an option for such a talented young man.
“Prasanthan is a shining example of what we do at HEROS and how our partnership with the NHL is such an important element in our programming and in these young people’s lives,” says Norm Flynn, Founder and Executive Director of HEROS.
HEROS is the only Canadian organization who is a member of the NHL’s Hockey Is for Everyone initiative. Through this partnership, HEROS has been able to empower Canadian youth through access to hockey despite socio-economic challenges. Prasanthan is the third HEROS participant to date to receive the NHL/Thurgood Marshall Scholarship. The award is valued at approximately $26,000 USD which will be used for tuition, books and academic expenses for four years of university study.