Friends remember graduate student
Marisa Iati | Friday, January 17, 2014
When graduate student Sneha Polisetti remembers fellow graduate student Akash Sharma, she said she thinks of laughter.
“Every memory I have of him is either him laughing or making other people laugh,” Polisetti said. “That was Akash all the time. He was never sad or angry.”
Sharma, a third-year Ph.D. student in the chemical and biomolecular engineering program, died Jan. 1. The University did not comment on the cause of Sharma’s death, but friends said he died of health-related causes.
Sharma was a native of Delhi, India. He served as co-president of the Indian Association of Notre Dame during the 2012-2013 academic year and was a teaching assistant for several classes. Sharma was also a member of the Notre Dame Men’s Boxing Club.
Polisetti, who is a third-year student in the chemical and biomolecular engineering graduate program, said she and Sharma are both from India and lived in the Fischer Graduate Residences.
“I can’t even think of one person who he did not get along with or he had a problem with,” Polisetti said. “He got along with everybody, and anyone you talked to, they’d have a good word to say about him.”
Sharma was “extremely giving,” Polisetti said.
“He was very willing to help, but I don’t even think he did it consciously. That’s just the way he was,” Polisetti said. “He would not even think twice about doing something for somebody else, going out of his way. He would be happy to do it.”
Nick McNamara, who is also a third-year graduate student in Sharma’s program, said he met Sharma in their math class.
“He started telling a few of us this story about a problem he was having back in India with a monkey and a dog,” McNamara said. “He was surprised at how much the American students loved hearing about monkeys, because they are so common in India. He told us a bunch of other hilarious stories about monkey antics.”
Sharma constantly was smiling, McNamara said.
“He always had a huge, goofy grin on his face,” McNamara said. “He was always telling jokes and trying to make people laugh. And he was never mean or rude about it. He was just a genuinely nice and friendly person.”
Grief counseling is available to students through the University Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, and International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA).
Rosemary Max, director of ISSA, said her office is planning a memorial Mass for Sharma in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Details are forthcoming.