Sharma Duo Focuses on Big-Picture Issues

UPDATED: Dec. 16, 2012, at 5:42 p.m.

At the Undergraduate Council presidential and vice presidential debate last week, running mates Akshay M. Sharma ’14 and Akanksha Sharma ’14 clarified to a smattering of chuckles: “We’re not related. We’re not dating. We’re not married.”

The two Sharmas are simply close friends who, they say, share a vision for the future of the Harvard community as well as a surname.

Akshay and Akanksha’s friendship began even before they came to Harvard, when they met at a college interview during their senior year of high school.

Since then, the two have come to share Cabot House as a home, performing arts as a passion, and mutual friends as supporters for their student government presidential campaign.

Michael J. Chilazi ’14, who has known Akshay and Akanksha since their freshman year, describes them as “those people that you come to Harvard to meet: students with unrelenting passion, genuine empathy, and big hopes.”

Those aspirations stand behind their campaign slogan, “Ignite”—a message meant to kindle excitement about an Undergraduate Council that “can and should do more.”

SPARKING SOCIAL LIFE

As the epicenter of student life at Harvard, student groups should interact more to foster a greater sense of community on campus, the Sharmas say.

To help, they propose creating an email list for group leaders and a forum for working together in person.

As a representative of the Phillips Brooks House Association said at the UC debate, the most pressing issue for these groups is often the acquisition of funds from the UC.

Akanksha attributes the funding difficulties that newly formed student organizations face to the complicated process of applying for grants online.

Maura D. Church ’14, a member of Speak Out Loud, a spoken word poetry organization that was officially established a year ago, agrees.

“It has been very difficult to put on events, get rooms reserved, and get support...because we have so little money,” she says in a Facebook message, adding that she supports the Sharmas’ campaign because she believes they will alleviate the problem—not to mention the fact that Akanksha is her roommate and she is in a long-term relationship with Akshay. “I believe Akshay and Akanksha have the experience and the fire in their bellies to get it done.”

To demystify the funding process, the Sharmas say they will hold office hours to teach student organizations how to use the grant portal.

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