Next stop: Great Britain

Upasana Sharma’s summer internship at an organization that supports clean water for Indians has given her the opportunity to travel all over the country.

By Sasha Nyary 

Mount Holyoke College student Upasana Sharma ’18 will explore the history of Great Britain as a colonial power when she spends her junior year abroad at the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Sharma won the John C. Phelan General Course Scholarship to facilitate her year of study. The LSE awards the scholarship—worth about $20,000 and given to just four students annually—on the basis of academic merit and financial need. Sharma will study politics, ethics, nationalism, and international relations. 

“I have always had a fascination for Great Britain as the one single historic force that shaped the destinies of many continents,” said Sharma, a student from India majoring in international relations and minoring in Asian studies. “Entrenched in the heart of the once British Empire is a great place to take my interests.” 

The McCulloch Center encourages students to apply for outside scholarships that can lead to study abroad, said Joanne Picard, dean of international studies at the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. She noted that the competition for the LSE scholarship is fierce. 

Sharma is the first student in recent memory to win the award, Picard said. “It's exciting to see her hard work literally pay off,” she said. Sharma will be one of about 300 students taking the LSE’s General Course, a year of undergraduate study in the social sciences. 

Having studied in India and the United States, Sharma said, she is excited to learn more about the British point of view. 

“LSE offers me a different perspective, one that challenges my current views and tests my defenses,” she said. “I want to build a global perspective that will help me develop a focus for my senior thesis, which will be centered around British colonialism.” 

Her ultimate ambition is to bring about change at the grassroots level in the Indian education system and for women in rural India. Her goals are inspired in part by Mount Holyoke’s longstanding commitment to women’s education. 

“The fact that I get to go to Mount Holyoke is a dream,” she said. “It’s not just what you learn inside the classroom here, it’s the discussions you have with your peers, colleagues, and professors that shape your way of thinking. It’s a great opportunity for me to be at Mount Holyoke.” 

In addition to her studies, Sharma is the communications director at AWAZ, the College’s South Asian Students Association. This summer, she is working at Arghyam, a grant-making foundation in Bangalore, India, that promotes groundwater sanitation and fresh water across the country. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy after graduation. 

How far will you travel? Plan your visit.