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Learning with No Limits

Pritika Sharma, NTC ’20, came to Tulane from India because she knew she wanted to have the academic flexibility to figure out the best way to utilize her strengths in her future career. She entered her first year intent on studying economics, but by the end of her first year she pursued her interest in human behavior and qualitative research with a major in anthropology.

Undergraduate research was another priority for Sharma when looking at schools and deciding her major. As an Honors student, she was able to build strong relationships with faculty in her first year and followed the structured Honors Colloquium curriculum which prepared her to apply for grants, write proposals and talk to professors. Her Honors Thesis started as a term paper in one of her cultural anthropology classes and quickly morphed into an ethnographic study that led her back to her home country of India but to an area and aspect of the culture she had yet to be exposed to – the wedding markets. Through grants from Newcomb-Tulane College, the Honors Summer Research Program and the Newcomb Institute, Sharma was able to travel to India and spend the summer doing the field research necessary for her study on the Indian middle class and wedding industry customs in New Delhi.

All this hard work has paid off. In the fall of her senior year, Sharma was able to travel to Vancouver, Canada to do a poster presentation at the American Anthropology Association conference on her research. She was one of the few undergraduate students invited to the conference. Always the planner, she used the opportunity to network and help decide her path after graduation. Sharma describes how she emailed faculty ahead of time from the list of conference attendees and gained a lot of insight into the PhD application process. 

“The experience helped me make the decision for the PhD commitment. The faculty I met helped with tips to apply to the PhD programs and I even met people from new institutions I hadn’t considered applying to yet.”

In fall 2020, Sharma will be starting as a PhD candidate at Boston University in the sociocultural anthropology program. She credits Newcomb-Tulane College and her experience at Tulane with giving her the freedom to choose this path and work hard to achieve her goals (so far!). 

“I appreciate the agency given to students. It’s democratic – your education is for you, by you and around your goals. Advisors help with class choices and the way the curriculum is setup you get a chance to explore different options outside your chosen major. It’s a holistic education I’m thankful for.”