Queensborough Taught Me, Yes You Can: The Story of Arnab Sharma
On the heels of my graduation from Queensborough, I will travel to Johns Hopkins University where I will conduct research at the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology's Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Program. This NSF program for which I was selected is one of the most prestigious and competitive in the country.
Just four years ago I was living in Bangladesh, India, under the same roof of a small two-bedroom apartment with eight family members. I will be forever grateful to my uncles who used to help me with my studies despite the grueling demands of their full-time jobs. My formal education (and studies with my uncles) ended at 10th grade when my mother and I immigrated to New York in 2018.
The obstacles we faced together were immense.
We could barely speak or understand English. Getting a job—even part-time—was impossible. Lucky for us we had a roof over our heads with a distant family member but the clock was ticking. I would not be able to survive in New York unless I learned to speak English and that meant I had to continue my education.
I took five months of ESL at a Queens Public library. Eventually I could have small conversations, and got a job in Dunkin Donuts. During that time I completed my GED and then applied to Queensborough in the spring of 2019. I paid the tuition fees out of my savings until I began receiving financial aid in my second semester.
The world of science, specifically Nano-chemistry, which finds applications in biology, medicine and industry, was first introduced to me by my chemistry mentor, Dr. Moni Chauhan.
This discovery, I knew, was going to lay the groundwork for my academic success.
Before in-person activities closed down due to COVID, I had two months of lab experience working in the area of nanomaterials. Since then, I continued to conduct literature surveys in this area of research and am currently writing a publication.
And Queensborough was not just about academics. The College also opened doors for me to other interests I didn’t even know I had—to other talents and passions. I was President of the Student Government Association Board, and was involved in the University Student Senate, and Leadership Weekend.
A few weeks ago, I was awarded over $40,000 per year in grants and awards on transfer to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. There I will study in the Chemical Engineering program. Beyond that I plan to pursue my Ph.D. in the Chemical and Molecular Engineering field. This is an achievement I would never have dared dream of as a young man who was struggling to find his way, only a few years ago.
It is really something for me to ponder that I traveled over 12,000 miles from my beloved home country to begin a new and promising life here.
Arnab Sharma, ’21. Recipient of The John F. Kennedy Award to a graduating student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the College and community.