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Student Spotlight January 2012


Shyam Sharma


Shyam Sharma obtained his bachelor’s and his first master’s degree from Tribhuvan University, the only public university system of Nepal. Shyam is a fourth year PhD Fellow in Rhetoric and Composition at UofL.




Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):
Areas of my research and professional goals include the teaching and research of academic writing, multimodal writing/composition, rhetorical traditions of different societies/cultures, multilingualism and language policy, and professional development of graduate students. These interests evolve from my passion for teaching writing as a means of knowledge-making and knowledge-sharing. 

Awards, honors, publications:
Some of the awards that I have received are: K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award for 2012, the Barbara Plattus Award for Excellence in Teaching from UofL in 2011, the Alice Barns Award for Outstanding Achievement in master's degree from UofL in 2008, and the Mahendra Bidya Bhusan (gold medal) in 2000 from the then King of Nepal.

Long term goals/ aspirations:
I want to pursue a career as a teacher and scholar of English Studies and contribute my scholarship toward broadening/enriching the discipline’s scope and perspectives. I am also interested in developing scholarly networks across cultures and disciplines.

How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?
I believe that it will make me more qualified, and as a result, more responsible to use my education for achieving larger social purposes.  

What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?
My latest achievement has been the “K. Patricia Cross Future Leader Award,” an award given by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to eight students nationwide. I am humbled and proud at the same time.

What made you go into this field of study?
Education-wise, I had a good background in English in high school so I naturally drifted towards this subject as my major. Professionally, I started teaching (at an elementary school, when I was just eighteen) to pay for college; I realized after some time that I really loved teaching.

What was your favorite part of the graduate school experience?
Honestly, I enjoyed everything, but most of all I loved my work as a graduate assistant—first as an assistant director at the Writing Center, then as an assistant director in the Composition Program (English Department), and finally as a research assistant in SIGS. I specially loved to work on the PLAN initiative because this position gave me many opportunities from which I learned/refined a great variety of skills which I am sure will be very useful in my future career.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you
dealt with this challenge?
Many of us do not have the roadmap of what lies ahead of us. While it is our own responsibility to chart our own course, it is rather unfair that we often have to understand our place in the big picture of the profession in hindsight. To address this challenge, academic departments should help students plan better by providing milestones/roadmaps early and making things more explicit; the university should promote professional learning networks and resources; and, most importantly, students should make better use of available opportunities and resources. At UofL, I think that the PLAN initiative is beginning to make a very positive impact in this regard.

Family life:
I live in Louisville with my wife Soni and our two beautiful babies Umber and Ava, who are three and one year old. Soni is practically everyone’s mom—provider, caregiver, and inspirer. I am the grown up kid who is good at helping the other two grow up. We have a family life that is as best as it can be. 


Fun Facts

A talent you have always wanted: To learn how to play a few more musical instruments.
Favorite book: A little poetry collection titled “The Traveler” by Devkota, a Nepali poet.

Favorite quote:
“If you see a shadow in front of you, just turn around; it only means that there is
a source of light in your life.” (can’t remember source)

Role Model: I can’t name one.

Pet Peeve: When people refuse to share ideas, and worse pretend to know what they don’t.

If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now?  I would be teaching at a university in my home country.


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