The Ohio State University at Newark

Fearful to Fearless

July 19, 2021

Ohio State Newark helped Yamuna Sharma with more than just a degree.

Since 2008 an estimated 30,000 Bhutanese-Nepali individuals have made the greater Columbus area their home, according to the Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio. Bhutanese-Nepali American Yamuna Sharma, The Ohio State University alumna and former Newark campus student, came to the central Ohio region with her family when she was 11 years old after living in a refugee camp in Jhapa, Nepal for her entire life. Sharma came to this nation as a fearful, shy little girl, but being a student at Ohio State Newark helped her become the determined, confident young woman she is today.

“My parents were born in Bhutan where my family had resided for several decades. However, in the 1990s, my family was expelled from Bhutan due to their Nepali heritage. Upon return to Nepal, my family was not repatriated with Nepali citizenship rendering them essentially stateless. When I was born ourfamily lived in a refugee camp, where we remained until I was 11 years old,” she shared. “During my time there I bore witness to the dire health conditions of a people forsaken by every government they went to. These experiences influenced my decision in picking health science as my major.”

During middle and high school here in the United States, Sharma learned English, about the U.S. and much more, but she remained timid. Being a first-generation college student, a large campus with lots of people did not seem like the right place for her. Sharma chose Ohio State Newark after seeing the smaller campus and learning about the supportive, inclusive campus community.

“When I started at Ohio State Newark, I was shy and kept doubting my abilities. I was not confident about my academic ability. However, Ohio State Newark made it easier for a student like me to get help,” she said. “The small class sizes helped me engage more in college and helped me build better relationships with professors and other students. It also gives opportunities for professors to get involved with students and provide help when needed.”

Sharma found support from faculty and staff alike. She often went to her professors and advisor for guidance. Because she still struggled with writing certain types of papers, Sharma sought help from the various resources available from the Center for Student Success such as the Writer’s Studio, Tutoring Services and the Math Learning Center.

“While at Newark, I could always turn to my professors and advisor when an issue arose. The Writer’s Studio really assisted me in developing my writing and communication skills,” she noted. “I also utilized the English and math tutoring services my freshman year as I was a bit overwhelmed with the content. These resources and people really assisted me in my academic journey.”

Sharma also embraced opportunities such as education abroad and a two-day experience at Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory at Lake Erie. She participated in the Past, Present and Future of Liverpool class and trip abroad during her junior year. The trip introduces students to the history, literature and culture of Liverpool, England. Students examine Liverpool as a microcosm of the past three centuries of British history as a whole. They investigate its role as a major participant in the 18th century slave trade, its colorful immigration history, and its recent transformation from a blighted 20th century industrial city roiled by labor disputes and riots into a European Capital of Culture in 2008.

At Stone Lab, she was given a unique opportunity to learn about biology research in nature. A freshwater field station since 1895 and part of Ohio State since 1925, Stone Lab programs have introduced thousands to the basics of field-based biological science.

These experiences helped Sharma expand her learning and connect with her peers in new ways.

“For someone joining Ohio State’s Newark campus, I would urge them to get as involved as soon as possible with extracurriculars and take advantage of school-sponsored trips and activities,” she said “Ohio State Newark helped me gain confidence and made me realize that no matter where I came from, what language I speak or what my background is, if I work hard towards my goals, I can be successful. Ohio State Newark turned a shy and fearful girl into a confident and fearless young woman.”

Sharma graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in spring 2021 and now works at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute as a patient care associate.

Caption: Yamuna Sharma at Ohio State Newark.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that is inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service-learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.