Why I Vote for Dilshan


My friend Dilshan Hetti-Hewage has an opportunity to win a $25,000 scholarship with Lethbridge College in their Extreme Career Makeover contest.

Let’s take a small break here and vote.

Done. I just voted for Dilshan. How about you?

Truth is, it is damn hard to pick just one person to win. It’s even hard to pick four, which is how many of the ten contestants you can vote for every single hour until 11:59 on Sunday, March 30th. In fact, when I emailed Jen and Dilshan to let them know I was all geared up to help out any way I could and suggested doing a blog, this is what Dilshan emailed back:

“Jen and I will talk about this as an option. There is a part of me that thinks a few of those folks deserve it/need it more than we do. Let us think on it a minute to see how aggressively we want to pursue this.”

See? Even Dilshan was torn about promoting himself. Who’s to say that Dilshan deserves this scholarship more than any of the other contestants? I can’t say that, because after reading everyone’s stories I want them all to win. I probably want Dilshan to win just a little bit more because I know him and Jen.

Jen and I both worked for ATCO in Kandahar Airfield (KAF), Afghanistan, while Dilshan was working for Ecolog. Sometimes I would run into the two of them after work, during meals or on the Boardwalk. I’m not the most observant person in the world so Jen and Dil were probably dating for ages before I thought to myself “Hmmmm…. those two sure hang out a lot together. I wonder.

(To learn about how Tim Hortons brought these two lovebirds together read here.)

I worked in KAF for four years, but it was only when I started a new job as a Security Officer during my last two months that I got to know Dil in a professional capacity. I worked at an Entry Control Point (ECP) where Afghan employees and contractors entered and exited the camp. I used to see Dilshan almost every day when he was escorting local employees or dropping off paperwork at the ECP. It was always a pleasure to see Dilhan’s smiling face. When you’re surrounded by blast walls and your job is occasionally interrupted by rocket attacks or lockdowns because an explosive was found in a contractor’s truck, you remember the smiles.

I was thrilled when I found out Jen and Dilshan were getting married. I’m a sap at heart and was so happy to see a KAF romance workout.

I left Afghanistan before Jen and Dil and had been working in northern Alberta for a year when they moved to Calgary. We kept in touch and I was honoured to be invited to their Canadian wedding (on the anniversary of their Sri Lankan wedding!) but it never worked out with my rotation. In the meantime Dil kept me posted on his job search and I forwarded his resume to people I knew in the oil field camps and in Calgary.

I remember noticing Dilhan’s LinkedIn address at the bottom of his every email and wishing I was as on the ball as he was about networking. I also recognized the quote he included in his signature block from when I used to brief new ATCO employees in Bosnia:

“Excellence – going far beyond the call of duty. Doing more than others expect. This is what excellence is about. It comes from striving, maintaining the highest standards, looking after the smallest detail and going the extra mile. Excellence means caring. It means making a special effort to do more.” ~R.D. Southern, Founder, ATCO Group

Dilshan never worked for ATCO. You could say he was just clever to include a quote from a very well-known Albertan businessman, but the thing is if you knew Dil, you’d know that he means it. He aims for excellence. He goes beyond the call of duty and makes that special effort to do more.

And even though winning this scholarship could be a real game-changer for him, Dilshan’s first response to me was that other contestants might need or deserve it more.

That’s why I’m voting for Dilshan Hetti-Hewage.

How about you?



Despite support from around the world, Dilshan didn’t win the contest.

I do agree with Dil that most of those votes from 80 different countries likely came from Team Dilshan. Check out Dil’s latest blog post here for the low-down and the thank-yous. Truly a class act.

“A winner is a loser who never gives up…so I know I won in so many ways.”

Absolutely Dil, absolutely.

Thank you from Dilshan

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