Spirit of the Gift Biography Project

Histories of the men and women behind WSU's endowed funds

Dr. Harshini de Silva Endowed Memorial Scholarship

Harshini deSilva, a native of Sri Lanka, graduated from high school at the age of 16. The oldest daughter of Dr. Dharma deSilva, director of WSU's Center for International Business Advancement, and Dr. Deema deSilva, director of WSU's Student Support Services, she continued her quest for knowledge by obtaining her bachelor's in biological science from WSU, a master's in microbiology from the University of Kansas and her Ph.D. in pharmacology and cell biophysics from the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, all by the age of 24. While attending WSU, she met and married Robert Wilhelm ('81). Together, she and Dr. Wilhelm accepted faculty positions at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; she as associate professor of biology and he as associate professor of mechanical engineering and science.

Dr. Harshini deSilva, a respected scientist and expert in the fields of cardiovascular and liver disease, was an authority on the movement of cholesterol in the blood stream. A dedicated and respected professor, she pioneered interdisciplinary studies at UNCC. In 2000, she died tragically from injuries sustained in a car accident. In recognition of a brilliant and inspirational woman, the Dr. Harshini deSilva Endowed Memorial Scholarship was established to benefit students in Student Support Services.