William & Mary

Neha Agrawal '18

Neha Agrawal '18"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, 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." - Neha Agrawal '18