Waruna Weerasekera had plans to be a scientist, not a teacher. But, he says of life as a lecturer at the University of Otago, he "absolutely loves it!"
With a desire to work in medicine, Waruna chose to leave home and Sri Lanka to study Biomedical Science at the University of Otago, drawn by the choice of subjects and the flexibility of the degree course.
Majoring in "the molecular basis of health and disease", Waruna studied mainly biology, physiology and biochemistry. It was here he came to see the beauty of good teaching in action. "The lecturers were helpful. They always had their doors open, and I felt that I could go and bug them anytime - so I did. They made us feel like we weren't on our own." And so he discovered a love for physiology.
At Otago, and a long way from home, Waruna says his student days were "character-building and fun". He learnt valuable relationship skills, how to make friends, manage his time - and how to cook!
Now, he enjoys teaching first- and second-year Physiology students at Otago. "Teaching is really rewarding when you realise the students understand."
Waruna says teaching also helps him develop his knowledge and skills in his favourite subject. In fact, he plans to be a student again, and do a postgraduate degree in renal, cardiovascular or endocrine physiology. "I like it! I have an affinity with this type of physiology."
He looks to return to Sri Lanka as a doctor one day, but whether he works in a hopsital, clinic or university, he wants teaching to be a part of his life.