The Veda Mekani Scholarship
The Veda Mekani Scholarship supports talented and community-spirited young theatre performers. Gifted since 2006 by the family of the late Veda Mekani, this unique scholarship exemplifies the dedication to nurturing creative talents to be professional and international theatre performers who are committed to empowering communities through their artistic practice.
LASALLE is deeply grateful to the family of Veda Mekani (Bharat and Kirtida) for their continued inspiration and enlightened approach to training and supporting young theatre performers. LASALLE hopes to grow the scholarship pool together with the family to benefit more socially-engaged young talents from around the world.
About Veda Mekani
Veda Mekani, an alumnus of LASALLE’s Theatre Arts programme, was extremely passionate about theatre and at a young age realized its power and impact on people around her. She had a particular ambition to bring theatre to children who would otherwise never have access to it and to enrich their lives with the magic of theatre. She would often organize workshops for the young through her own theatre company.
She enrolled in LASALLE’s Theatre Arts programme with an interest in a practice-based approach to learning Asian and Western theatre techniques. She enjoyed studying theatre and often embarked on research projects with great zeal. Her dream was to direct a play written by herself and she had embarked on a project to stage her own play from the ancient text of Sanskrit theatre, but which was uncompleted.
She passed away on 1 September 2004, two months before her 20th birthday.
Veda Mekani, image courtesy of the Mekani family
The Veda Mekani Scholarship has endowed a total of 68 Scholars over the last 11 years. All scholars remain highly engaged in theatre, education and community all over the world.
Ashleigh J Flemming, Actor
BA(Hons) Musical Theatre (2006)
Performing since the age of 8, Ashleigh received training in classical voice, opera and the piano, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of NSW, Australia. However, she had always enjoyed acting and the musical theatre. Receiving the Veda Mekani Scholarship enabled her to fulfil her dreams of both studying dancing and acting as well as living overseas.
Her education at LASALLE had grown her independence and confidence, facilitating her first move to Hong Kong where she landed a Disney contract before spring-boarding to the UK, where she found success performing in the West End Tour of The Sound of Music, and most recently as an understudy for Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera at her Majesty’s Theatre, London for 2 years.
Ashleigh is currently teaching privately, and Head of Singing at Starburst Academy in Watford and teaches singing at Stageworks Studios Performing Arts College in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. She derives great joy inspiring others and helping students prepare for a career in the Musical Theatre industry.
Christopher J Jensen, Co-Founder, Climate Conversations
BA(Hons) Acting (2005)
Prior to LASALLE, Christopher had lived his whole life in Australia. The opportunity to come to Singapore presented itself when he was offered to study at LASALLE through the Veda Mekani Scholarship. After graduating in 2009, Christopher directed his own performance Happiness that explored what it meant to live a happy life, and worked for companies such as WOW Kampung, Word Forward and Familiar Insights.
Taking a great interest in education and the development of communities and their impact on the global environment, Christopher now uses his acting skills to create programmes at Climate for Change and Climate Conversations where he is a founding member, to reach out to tens of thousands of people from all walks of life to engage and inspire them to be a part of climate change. He credits the training he received at LASALLE to be able to manage teams and partners and to drive positive change in service of the community.
Pavanjeet Singh, Actor, Educator
BA(Hons) Acting (2007)
Having grown up in a conservative and traditional Indian-Sikh family, the option to pursue a career in the performing arts was never presented to Pavanjeet. Always viewed as a hobby, he would spend his hours after work to be a part of theatre. The life changing opportunity came when he took a decision to enrol in LASALLE where he was awarded the Veda Mekani Scholarship, one which he went on to take full advantage and graduated with a First Class honours. Pavanjeet credits teachers at LASALLE who were exceptional in their ability to teach, who were highly experienced practitioners and academics.
Since graduating in 2009, Pavanjeet has been actively contributing in the Singapore performing arts scene, working with many leading theatre companies in such as The Esplanade, Theatreworks, Checkpoint Theatre, Dramabox and Cake, winning a theatre award in 2015 for his part in Edith Podesta’s Dark Room x8. Pavanjeet has chosen to pay it forward as a teacher at LASALLE, a path that allows him to mentor and pass on his knowledge and experience. To anyone keen to pursue a LASALLE education, Pavanjeet shares these words of encouragement, “Trust that you are pursuing a noble career with a higher purpose. To be an artist in any society is great honour, and it allows you to make immeasurable contributions.”
Rosanna E Hyland, Actor
BA(Hons) Musical Theatre (2005)
Rosanna was at the end of her first year of university in Australia when she decided that musical theatre was what she truly wanted to pursue. Enrolling in LASALLE and being awarded the Veda Mekani Scholarship had changed the entire trajectory of her life. Benefitting from small class numbers, state of the art facilities and a passionate and highly experienced faculty, Rosie is thankful that her LASALLE education had provided a fantastic springboard into the theatre industry.
Upon graduation, Rosanna left for the UK where she had achieved great success as an established West End Musical Theatre performer, getting her break cast in Carousel (Savoy), and being in the original cast of West End shows such as I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road (Jermyn Street), Shock Treatment (Kings Head), Urinetown (Apollo), Sister Act, The Musical (London Palladium), and currently starring in School of Rock (New London Theatre).
Sharda Maxine Harrison, Actor, Educator
BA(Hons) Theatre Arts (2007)
Sharda always had a huge passion for acting and to enrol in a drama school. This became a reality with the Veda Mekani Scholarship, which allowed her to benefit from “LASALLE’s qualified teachers and an amazing programme”. An actor currently residing in Singapore, her career highlights include performing with many local theatre companies such as W!ld Rice, The Necessary Stage, Cake, Singapore Repertory Theatre and Toy Factory
Sharda was nominated twice for Best Supporting Actress at the annual The Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards for her roles in The Necessary Stage’s Crossings and Toy Factory’s The Crucible and winning the 2016 Life! Theatre awards for her role in Hotel. Rosie has set up a laboratory programme under Pink Gajah Theatre, a theatre company which she founded to give artists free space to create their works. At the same time, she actively mentors young emerging artists, and is a strong advocate for LASALLE, encouraging many with a similar passion to pursue an arts education.
Rebecca Spykerman, Actor and Educator
BA(Hons) Musical Theatre (2009)
Since graduation, Rebecca started her career in Singapore, playing many prominent roles in plays, musicals and TV shows. On stage, she is best known for her role as Viola in Twelfth Night with the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park season, and was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her work playing the role of “Ilse” in the musical Spring Awakening. On TV, she has been in The Kitchen Musical, and Spouse for House.
Rebecca is now based in Los Angeles where she is further developing her career. To future and current LASALLE students, Rebecca encourages all to “believe that it is possible to dream big no matter what their background is, perceived limitations or fears are… dig big, trust your gut instincts and blaze your own trail!”
Giving to LASALLE
If you would like to make a difference like the Mekanis and inspire a new generation of artists and theatre-makers, please contact email@example.com at the Division of Advancement.