Ohio Wesleyan’s Sriharsha “Harsha” Masabathula will leave this May with an OWU diploma in hand and a prestigious Young India Fellowship (YIF) awaiting him in his native New Delhi, India. Masabathula, an economics major and philosophy minor, applied for the fellowship and was among three percent of the 3,000 applicants to be selected for the year 2013-14. Graduating a year early from OWU, he’ll begin his year-long residential post-graduate course in mid-June. It will be an experience, Masabathula explains, that will allow him to further build upon his Ohio Wesleyan liberal arts education by interacting with other like-minded graduates in India. A goal of YIF is to help groom socially conscious leaders, which is very much in line with Masabathula’s career aspirations.
Fellowship applicants are Indian citizens who have undergraduate or postgraduate degrees and no more than two years of work experience. They are evaluated on their demonstrated talent in the domain of their interests; demonstrated passion to learn things beyond the prescribed curriculum; good academic record and achievement in extracurricular activities; and potential benefit from the YIF.
“In my country, there is more of a focus on such professions as medicine and engineering, so the educational breadth of this program, in terms of the liberal arts, is the first of its kind in India,” says Masabathula. Fellows will also have opportunities to study in Paris, at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, work on internships of their choice, and learn from professors who fly in from distinguished institutions around the world. The YIF is designed in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and its School of Engineering and Applied Science and Carleton College. For Masabathula, this fellowship is a perfect “next step” from his OWU learning experiences.
Taking full advantage of OWU’s theory-to-practice opportunities, he traveled to India in 2011 with his professors to study carbon markets and models for replicating them and to Japan in 2012 to observe how climate change is perceived in a developed nation.
“I was able to attend the International Forum for Sustainable Asia and the Pacific (ISAP 2012) and also volunteered for CRASH Japan, building homes for the 2011 earthquake victims,” says Masabathula, reflecting on the horrors he witnessed. During his travel-learning course in Alaska last summer, Masabathula studied mathematical modeling of climate and was amazed to learn about the complexities of climate modeling. He was also awarded World Bank Funding for participation in the 22nd Annual Conference of the International Environmetrics Society, where he presented his research on the implications of afforestation on the global climate under the guidance of professor Craig Jackson of OWU’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. Their work was accepted for publication in the Journal of Environmental Statistics, published by the University of California – Los Angeles.
He had a great time seeing how real research is done, but admits to being more interested in applying research to create effective policies combining social justice, equity, poverty, climate change, and business-related issues to promote sustainable development. Although he has attended and presented at many international conferences, one of Masabathula’s favorites is his participation in the International Carbon Market Enclave at Cologne, Germany last year as the youngest member of the Indian Business Delegation led by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He was also a member of the panel discussion on “Carbon Markets–Way Forward” at the event.
“Whatever I decide to do in the future will most likely involve graduate school,” says Masabathula. “I want to reach out to the poor in my nation and serve on a global level to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.”