Students arrived on the University of La Verne campus Monday toting backpacks and hot coffee, some still sleepy-eyed from months of summer relaxation and others raring to go for the first day of t...
Tahil Sharma is one of nine California students to be named a 2013 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents dedicated to promoting community service.
Kindness. Honesty. Determination. Empathy. These are some of the values Tahil Sharma credits his grandfather, Brigadier Nardip Singh, for passing on to him when he was a child. Describing him as the “greatest of all role models,” Sharma has made it a personal goal of his to achieve at least a little bit of the respect and success his grandfather did.
To say the least, he is on his way.
Campus Compact has named the University of La Verne junior foreign languages major a 2013 Newman Civic Fellow, an honor recognizing community-engaged college students from 36 states as the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. Sharma is one of nine California college students to receive this honor.
“This is not just any award, this represents Tahil’s values, who he is and the changes he makes on this campus,” President Dr. Devorah Lieberman said. “I am so proud of him.”
Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents and the only national higher education association dedicated solely to promoting public and community service to develop students’ citizenship skills. President Lieberman, a recently elected member of the Board of Directors for Campus Compact, nominated Sharma for the award.
To be named a Newman Civic Fellow, a student must demonstrate an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Here on the University of La Verne campus, Sharma is doing just that, and more. As president of the Model United Nations Club, president of the Muslim Student Association, co–president and founding member of the Interfaith Student Council, student mentor, among several other campus affiliations, Sharma’s track record for leadership hardly goes unnoticed.
“Tahil is not only building greater understanding among diverse people, his interfaith activities are bringing people together to address common issues in our community,” University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner said.
Working closely with Wagoner on several interfaith campus projects, Sharma is helping unite students from all backgrounds, races and faiths to come together peacefully to address the needs of the community through selfless service.
“So far, the outcome has been significantly positive, as my work with the local Sikh temple, and the interfaith communities of many cities, has helped to educate and feed a significant number of people, filling their minds with knowledge and their stomachs with traditional Indian, vegetarian food,” Sharma said.
Helping to educate and integrate students to the understanding of different worldviews, Sharma’s leadership role in the Interfaith Student Council is not only helping to unite a campus, but is providing new opportunities to feed community members in need at the local Sikh temple.
Sharma’s influential leadership draws attention to the greater community, as he is often invited to speak publically at interfaith events throughout the region, including events on campus. But it’s not just his great speaking ability nor his academic success that has helped him come this far, it’s his passion for humanity that others see in him.
“It is communities and society as a whole that play a role in the person that I am today,” Sharma said. “I am thankful for the good and the bad of the realities of the world that I have grown up in and have been exposed to, in order for me to get a better grasp of what life is all about. It is now time for my responsibilities as a grown adult to pay back that society, that world that has given me so much.”
Sharma, an only-child and self-proclaimed “freak of languages,” speaks four languages fluently: English, Spanish, Hindi-Urdu and Panjabi. He is currently learning Japanese and plans to master Arabic and Korean in the near future. An ambition to succeed, coupled with a knack for helping others has brought Sharma to where he is today.
Having grown up in both Los Angeles County and New Delhi, India, where he calls “home” plays a significant role in determining who he wants to become. “I chose La Verne to be my home away from home, Sharma said. “This university has given me the opportunity to voice my beliefs and opinions. I get the education necessary to enter the real world while retaining the relation of a close-knit community.”
Sharma knows what it will take to achieve his goals, and he’s making plans accordingly. He wants to pursue international studies through diplomacy when he reaches grad school and ultimately work for the CIA or the United Nations while continuing work in philanthropy and humanitarian aid.
“There is one dream that I have, it would be to leave this world with a good mark,” Sharma said. Newman Civic Fellow awards are made in memory of Dr. Frank Newman, a founder of Campus Compact, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform.
To learn more about Campus Compact visit www.compact.org.