Featured Projects

Exploring Causes of Child Marriage in Rajasthan, India

Neha Agrawal, '18   - Neha Agrawal, Class of 2018

As someone who came from a high school whose curriculum revolved around STEM subjects, I had had very limited exposure to any research done in the social sciences. Coming into the Sharpe program, I was very naïve regarding what community-based research was and the extent to which I could do such research. My perspective completely transformed after taking the Sharpe seminar “Communities and Neighborhoods: Class, Space, and Race” with Professor David Aday. I was introduced to different types of research in the social sciences, particularly community-based participatory research (CBPR), a form of research in which the investigator collaborates with community members, involving them throughout the research process, to thoroughly understand a problem in the community and then develop an intervention directed towards social change. Learning about CBPR not only changed the way I thought about community-based research, but also about solutions to some of the major social problems in the world today.

I continued on to take “Research Approaches in Public Health” with Professor Aday as well, and am currently in the process of designing my proposal for a two-summer study on child marriage in Rajasthan, India. I hope to work with a rural community in Rajasthan to determine what religious, historical, and cultural factors ground this centuries old practice in the state by understanding what the shared beliefs of community members are regarding child marriage, and to delve into some of the many consequences faced by child brides. I aim to work with community members to eventually develop a community-based intervention that will mitigate the consequences of the practice. Hopefully, my research will serve as model for those studying child marriage and trying to improve the lives of child brides in other countries.

Overall, being a Sharpe Scholar made my first year at William & Mary an invaluable experience in terms of the skill set and broadened view of the world that I gained, and will continue to play a major role throughout my undergraduate experience and future career.

Thanksgiving Banquet

This holiday season the Sharpe Community Scholars partnered with student group Ebony Expressions and local businesses to host a Thanksgiving Banquet for approximately 150 of William & Mary’s dedicated custodial staff for a night of fun, food, and prizes. Sharpe Scholars and Ebony Expressions solicited donations of food, raffle prizes, and funds to make the event a success. Sodexo and Golden Corral generously donated meal staples for the evening, which were supplemented by other donations. Local businesses such as Astronomical Pancake House, Bangkok Garden, Trader Joes, Fresh Market, Farm Fresh, and Sal’s Pizza donated gift baskets, gift cards, and other raffle items, which were presented to the attendees during the event. Jasmine Brown, of Ebony Expressions, and Alpha Mansaray of the Sharpe Community Scholars program headed the event, which was met with great enthusiasm by the custodians as well as the student volunteers. See the Photo Gallery of the event here.

The Religion in Politics Team - Perspectives in Citizenship and Community freshman seminar in Sharpe

Sharpe students enrolled in the Perspectives in Citizenship and Community seminar, taught by Professor Joel Schwartz, Government, examined the role of religion in politics using a variety of methods that integrated service with academic learning. A team of seven students volunteered at Operation Hope, one of Williamsburg's local faith-based organizations that provides food and clothing to impoverished citizens, and observed how this religious organization practiced what might commonly be defined as social service. The team also attended local church services, visiting a variety of denominations, in order to observe the worship styles and the extent to which parishioners and clergy engaged in open discussion of public policy or politics as part of their service. View the film students developed to share the Religion in Politics Team Project.

The Sharpe - Alumni Partnership in Community-Based Learning

Funded by the generous donation of time and funds by the Hundred Acre Woods Alumni Group, Sharpe implemented its first Alumni Partnership in Community-Based Learning during one of Williamsburg's notable heat waves last summer.

Professor Jonathan Arries, Hispanic Studies, and the Sharpe director worked with the alumni to coordinate logistics, and to propose themes and target populations for community-based learning. Nine students enrolled in a team-taught course on issues in service-learning and cultural mediation in preparation for the alumni visit during the project's implementation. The project focused on Barriers to Health and Human Services for Williamsburg's Latino Immigrant Population. Five alumni and one young family member joined five to seven W&M students in learning about literacy, education, and transportation barriers to health and human services for Latino immigrant workers in Williamsburg, and they would distribute leaflets (in Spanish and in English) advertising a local, free health clinic event and on-going social services door-to-door in some of Williamsburg's low income neighborhoods. See a review of the 2005 Latino Outreach Project (pdf).

Projects in previous years: