May is Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi and Asian American Heritage Month. Throughout the month, The Daily will highlight members of the university community who are of Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi and Asian American heritage to celebrate their accomplishments as members of the campus community and shed light on their experiences at CWRU.
When Los Angeles native Lauren Sharkey, a junior majoring in computer science and finance, was looking for a college to earn her undergraduate degree, she had a few non-negotiables in mind.
“I was looking for a midsize college in a city that had a decent level of diversity,” she said. “I wanted to make sure I was still in a city. I knew that I wanted to go into accounting or finance, so I made sure that I attended a school that had those specific programs.”
Even though she traded in the sunset and beaches for a fairly different environment in Cleveland, Sharkey doesn’t mind getting to experience all four seasons.
“I love the snow,” she said. “I always get excited whenever I wake up to a fresh layer of snow on the ground, and I don’t think that I will ever get used to it.”
In her degree program at Weatherhead School of Management, Sharkey hit the ground running. She completed two internships: a tax and audit internship at Novogradac & Company LLP and an accounting internship at Epitaph Records. This summer, she will be working at Progressive Insurance as a data analytics intern.
Sharkey participated in the Wall Street Trek in 2019 as well, an experience in which she and fellow undergraduate students traveled to New York City to connect closely with alumni and explore career opportunities, gain advice and network. She also was a member of the Weatherhead Fund, a student-run investment club managing $500,000 in assets, and most recently was inducted into the Wolstein Society, an honors society that recognizes outstanding undergraduate students.
As busy as she is professionally, Sharkey still finds a way to join organizations to make a difference in the community. Recently, she was a part of the executive board for the Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) and helped to moderate a discussion about the recent hate crimes against the Asian American community.
“After attending that event I wanted to do whatever I could to help bring change to CWRU,” she said. “I also joined to bring a Pacific Islander view to the task force because it is an underrepresented group on this campus.”
When asked what she thinks the university should know about the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, it’s that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are very separate communities, and it is important that they are both recognized individually.
“These two groups were first grouped together in the 1980s on the U.S. Census but are actually two different racial groups with completely different experiences and cultures,” Sharkey said. “The Asian American community itself is vastly diverse and should not be treated as a monolith. Pacific Islander culture is often ignored or minimized throughout AAPI heritage month, so it is important that we recognize all of the cultures that make up the terms AAPI or APIDA.”