Change only happens when people demand things.

Anushikha Sharma '19
Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

"My father serves in India's navy, so I moved around a lot as a child. I spent my last two years of high school at a United World College campus in the western state of Maharashtra. When it was time to apply to universities, I was looking for a good engineering program and came to Bucknell as a Davis scholar, under a partnership program that links UWC graduates with universities across the United States.

"I first majored in computer science & engineering and added women's & gender studies at the start of my junior year. I've always been involved in diversity issues and activism, and I felt like I was missing that human element by majoring only in engineering. I couldn't just be a technical person.

"My political views shape my double major. I want to be more informed about the things I support and believe in. Reading the news is one thing, but learning the history and theory behind the issues adds a new dimension of understanding. I want to use my education to become a social entrepreneur so that I can help create more opportunities for women to get into computer science and the tech industry, and develop products that are geared toward diverse populations.

"At one point, I considered leaving computer science. Then I realized it was important to make the existing space more inclusive by being in it and working to improve it. So I helped to form an organization for women computer science majors on campus. The group is a chapter of the national Association for Computing Machinery–Women. That was my way of claiming space for women in engineering at Bucknell, and each year professors and students grow more supportive.

"As part of a summer research project, I also helped to create an introductory computer science course for non-STEM majors. The goal was to encourage more women and marginalized groups to learn computer programming. When we offered the course, 18 of the 24 students were women. That achievement became one of my most eye-opening and rewarding experiences at Bucknell.

"Along with serving as a residential adviser for Summit House, which is an affinity house for members and allies of Bucknell's LGBTQ community, I've also been a facilitator and director of the Common Ground retreat. Planning, overseeing and executing the event was an amazing experience. In addition, I've worked with the Women's Resource Center and the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* & Queer (LGBTQ) Resources, and traveled with the Katrina Recovery Team to New Orleans.

"I really like connecting with people, and I'm going to carry a lot of the relationships that I formed at Bucknell with me after I graduate. I value that I can major in women's & gender studies along with computer science. I feel like I'm getting to do everything I wanted to do."

Anushikha is from Mumbai, India.

Posted November 2017

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