GSU student spotlight: Dylan John

Connor White

Dylan John has only been a student at Georgia Southern University for two years, but in that short time, he rapidly made a name for himself, arguably becoming one of the most influential students in his class.

John was born and raised in Sri Lanka, an island nation in the northern Indian Ocean that boasts a rich Buddhist heritage and stunning biodiversity. John is completing his secondary education outside of the country.

“I came to the U.S. through a scholarship called GRSP, which is the Georgia Rotary Student Program,” John said, “and what they do is they bring fifty scholars each year, from around the world, and they put us in different schools. I was [first] put into Middle Georgia College, so I spent my first two years there. Then, I was looking for a construction school, and Georgia Southern had by far the best construction management program, if not in just Georgia, the entire region, at least the way I saw it.”

Back home, John’s father owns and runs several construction companies under an broader organization called Dwellco. Even though Dwellco has granted John’s family access to many resources not available in the U.S., John himself seems easily capable of operating without them. “I’m pretty independent in terms of how I like to manage myself, so I’m constantly trying to seek out new scholarships or other opportunities.”

This desire to succeed may have stemmed from a hurdle John faced several years ago.

“I had a massive injury in 2009, a spinal injury that kept me away from high school. So, my grades were very low, and I didn’t really know how well I was going to do in college. The GRSP was a blessing,” John said.

“So when I came over, I wanted to do almost everything and still do well in academics so that I could tell people that I’m back on track, and I got involved in everything.”

John considers his greatest accomplishment to be one of the very things he threw himself into at the start of his college career: Mock Mediation.

“I was in a meeting with a professor, who told me that the vice president of our school has signed up for this mediation competition that weekend without a team and was looking for volunteers. So lo and behold, my hand went up. Sure, why not? I had never done it before, I didn’t even know what the word meant,” John said, laughing.

Despite his unfamiliarity with the practice, John quickly became a spectacular player, leading teams at both Middle Georgia and Georgia Southern to numerous awards and accolades. The program here at GSU was built from the ground up by John and two friends at the time, representing Georgia Southern at competitions without even being formally recognized as a student organization. Now, they are ranked internationally, and teams from across the world seek training from Southern’s program.

However, John still wasn’t satisfied. He also wanted to promote Sri Lankan culture and promptly developed relationships with several ambassadors and embassies. “I had no formal connections,” John said, “but I didn’t know how I was going to go about doing that. So I just started with a few emails.” By demonstrating drive and ingenuity, John impressed Sri Lanka’s embassy in Washington, and they agreed to meet.

With so many responsibilities, many wonder where John finds the time to relax and do things for himself. For John, his collaborations on campus are his free time.

“The ability to relate to people is free time to me. It’s refreshing,” John said, “Be proactive. A lot of us wait to be told what we can do and what our limits are, and therefore we end up limiting ourselves through that very concept. There is absolutely no harm in trying something new. In a college environment, the worst thing that can happen to you is someone correcting you, and that’s good. You learn from it.”