Arshia Sharma '24

Arshia Sharma '24

Fast Five Q&A: “It’s really important to me that we have spaces at Brooks, like Chapel, where I can stand up, speak to and educate others, and talk about my own experience.” — Arshia Sharma ’24

Sixth-former Arshia Sharma has become a vocal advocate for initiatives at Brooks that center on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). She’s found a community that supports her as she speaks her mind. The Bulletin sat down with Sharma to talk about the pride he has in her cultural heritage as a decorated performer of kathak dance, a style of classical Indian dance, and how Brooks supports her in the issues she prioritizes.

Arshia Sharma '24: Student Profile from the Brooks Bulletin, Fall 2023.

1. This summer, you held two internships that became very important to you. What did you learn?
“I interned first as the executive assistant to the CEO at MadeINcubator, a fashion incubator. I was able to pick up a lot of knowledge about what it’s like to work at an established company through that. Then, I held a second internship with a company called 99 Yards. They hadn’t launched yet, so I did a lot of competitor analysis and I compared business models. That taught me a lot about how to launch a company and compete in the market.”

2. Tell us about your focus on DEIB work, and how that came into play this summer.
“I’ve done a lot of work on DEIB initiatives here at Brooks, and I wanted to do something similar this summer. Both of the companies I interned for support Black and brown artists and fashion designers. I think there’s a struggle there because the fashion and art realm is already difficult to break into, and it was important to me to help amplify the voices of these designers and artists who are just getting started.”

3. You are a DEIB prefect and a head of the Asian Student Alliance. How has the Brooks community supported you in this work?
“I started to engage in the school’s DEIB work when I was a fourth- and fifth-former. I started speaking in Chapel more, including discussing Diwali. My Wilder Speaking Competition talk when I was a fourth-former was on how colorism had affected my own life growing up, and I was a finalist. Colorism was also included in a book we read in English class that year, and it made me feel good to know that my classmates drew a connection between my speech and what they were reading for class. It’s really important to me that we have spaces at Brooks, like Chapel, where I can stand up, speak to and educate others, and talk about my own experience.”

4. You are also a talented and award-winning performer of Indian classical dance. Where did that interest come from?
“I specialize in kathak dance, which is from northern India. I’ve been dancing my entire life. There’s a lot of theory behind it, but also many religious aspects that are important. We portray different Hindu gods through dance, and we retell stories about them. Kathak dance includes dance and facial expressions, and it’s very complicated and precise. I love it because it includes acting and dance together, and that’s combined into this beautiful religious art form. I’m taking an advanced performance studio arts class now, and I’m working on a kathak performance as my culminating project.”

5. You’ve performed for the Indian ambassador to the United States, among other accolades. Do you plan to pursue kathak dance professionally?
“Right now, I’m preparing for a showcase performance that will formally end my youth career. I’m proud of it because it shows my hard work. I’ve also become more comfortable with my identity through kathak dance, and it’s become very important to me. I don’t plan to pursue dance professionally, but it’s a passion of mine that I don’t want to lose.”