Representative from India receives key to city

Published 12:10 am Saturday, July 7, 2018

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — Livingstone College has its eye on global horizons. The school Friday welcomed Dr. Hema Sharda from Punjab, India, for an honorary luncheon on Livingstone’s campus.

In recent years, Livingstone College has used its connections around the world to create a truly global education for students. Thanks to partnerships with universities in India, Livingstone students can spend a semester or two abroad, studying on the subcontinent. In turn, students from India can study for a time at Livingstone.

Sharda’s visit signals the start of a new partnership — one with Lovely Professional University in Punjab. Representatives from Salisbury, including Livingstone Dean of Business Rajeshwar Sharma and then-mayor of Salisbury Karen Alexander, visited Punjab last year to sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

Livingstone students have had the opportunity to study abroad since 2011, when President Rev. Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins launched the school’s international studies and study abroad program. Since then, students have spent time studying in countries like Peru, China and India. In fall 2017, students from India’s Invertis University spent a semester studying at Livingstone College.

But school officials hope that Livingstone’s relationship with Lovely Professional University will be more permanent.

Dr. Hema Sharda is chief advisor to the chancellor of Lovely Professional,” Assistant Director of Public Relations at Livingstone Kimberly Harrington said. “Her visit here was to find more ways to collaborate with Livingstone College and to strengthen our international studies program with Lovely and possibly other universities in India.”

Sharma is Sharda’s uncle, which helped in the selection of Lovely University.

He, and other Livingstone administrators, expressed their hope for a strong, enduring partnership with Lovely and other schools in India.

“I just wish that this partnership will keep going, so that our students . . . may be benefited,” Sharma said.

Sharda said that she had received a warm welcome at Livingstone, and in Salisbury; and called Livingstone Salisbury’s “best kept secret.”

“It’s just been overwhelming to see America in a different light,” she said.

Sharda has always been visiting family during previous trips to the states, and the occasion is a whirlwind of plane flights and time with parents and cousins. This is the first time she’s gotten a chance to explore — and Sharda said she liked what she found.

“My experience of visiting Salisbury and North Carolina has been incredible,” she said.

She, too, is excited by the new partnership. During Friday’s luncheon, Sharda said she was passionate about students having the opportunity to experience the life and culture of other countries. She lived and studied for a time in Australia, and knows how valuable the experience can be.

“I grew as a person by moving out of India,” she said.

But her passion to offer students multi-cultural experiences brought her back, and she settled in to work at Lovely Professional University.

“I said, ‘Why not go back to my country and see where I was born?” She said Friday.

The partnership, she said, would “give both cultures a chance to come closer through education.”

Jenkins was also optimistic.

“It is opening up a portal for Livingstone,” he said. “it is as life-changing opportunity for this institution.”

Sharda received an award from Livingstone, and the key to the city of Salisbury from Mayor Al Heggins, who said she hoped the partnership would benefit the city, as well as Livingstone.

The first delegation of Lovely Professional University students will visit Livingstone this fall.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.