Shashank Sharma of Glen Allen, Va., a senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science, and Jennifer Nicole Lamb of Broomfield, Colo., a senior double majoring in agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, are recipients of Virginia Tech's 2010 Undergraduate Man and Woman of the Year awards.

The awards were presented by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger at the annual Founder’s Day student recognition banquet held Saturday, April 11 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and was celebrated again at the 18th annual University Student Leadership Awards, held April 29 in the Commonwealth Ballroom in Squires Student Center.

The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Man and Woman of the Year awards recognize two graduating students who have achieved overall excellence during their undergraduate careers at the university. They are the most prestigious non-academic undergraduate awards given at Virginia Tech, and are awarded to those students who have exceptional and balanced achievement in academics, leadership, and service.

The recipients exemplify the qualities and values important to a Virginia Tech education, captured in the university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). Award recipients are selected by a committee of students, faculty, and administrators from across the academic colleges and the Division of Student Affairs. The Department of Student Activities, a unit within the Division of Student Affairs, sponsors and administers the annual awards.

Shashank Sharma, Undergraduate Man of the Year

2010 Undergraduate Man of the Year Shashank Sharma will graduate summa cum laude with a degree in biological sciences and says he intends to pursue a career in medicine. As committed to service as he is to academics, Sharma has demonstrated in concrete ways the true meaning of Ut Prosim.

Last summer Sharma travelled to Africa as recipient of a prestigious Gough Scholarship. While volunteering in medical clinics in central and western Kenya, he chose to live in orphanages, witnessing first-hand the devastating conditions under which the children live. Moved and determined to mitigate this problem, Sharma applied for and received a $15,000 grant from the Canadian Rotary Club to support his return to Kenya this summer to build concrete dormitories and classrooms at two orphanages in Nairobi.

“Receiving that grant made me realize that my capabilities are only limited by my will to make a difference,” Sharma said. “For the past three years I was under the impression that my altruistic endeavors were about me giving to others on behalf of Virginia Tech; today I realize they were also about me learning first-hand the true meaning of Ut Prosim, leadership, and being a Hokie.”

Sharma says his long-term goal is to raise funds to purchase land that the orphanage could use to grow their own crops to feed the children and sell the excess outputs as a source of income. “This is something that will prove to be not only beneficial in terms of easing their financial situation, but also give us a platform to teach them about better and more sustainable farming practices,” Sharma said.

During his time at Virginia Tech, Sharma has conducted undergraduate research; served as the resident advisor for the Biological and Life Sciences Community; participated in the Hospital Preceptorship program; coached a local high school debate team; served on a rescue squad; volunteered with several non-profit organizations; tutored fellow students; and helped African immigrant children with school work in mathematics, science, and English. Most recently, he taught general chemistry as a recitation instructor.

Jonathan Moore, teaching assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences, wrote, “He represents everything this university does and should hold dear: scholarship, discovery, personal growth, and outreach and engagement.”

For his keen mind and inquisitive nature and his service to others at home and abroad, Virginia Tech has selected Sharma as the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Man of the Year for 2010. Sharma is the son of Bhudeo Sharma and Manju Sharma. Both parents grew up in India, in villages outside of New Delhi. Through hard work and numerous sacrifices, they were able to pave the family’s way to the United States, according to Sharma. The Sharma family moved from India to the United States in 1997.

Jennifer Nicole Lamb, Undergraduate Woman of the Year

2010 Undergraduate Woman of the Year Jennifer Nicole Lamb, is a double major in agricultural and applied economics and political science. She has combined these disciplines to create extraordinary opportunities in researching and policy-making for sustainable agriculture which takes into consideration disadvantaged populations.

Several very different, yet complementary experiences have shaped Lamb’s world-view and aspirations. She spent last summer in Kakamega, Kenya, where she worked to improve the production and processing of key soya protein products in the region. She has served twice as an intern in the U.S. Congress, with the Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. She has interned with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and she has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

A passionate horse enthusiast, Lamb has been a key participant in Virginia Tech equestrian activities, as a member of the Virginia Tech Equestrian Club Executive Board for two years, serving on the Virginia Tech Horse Judging Team since 2007, and as Western Team Captain since 2008.

In her award application, she wrote about reconciling her love of horses with her work in sustainable agriculture. “In my mind, when I replay the sun dripping orange behind the Washington Monument or feel my feet sink deeper into the sand on the shore of Lake Naivasha, I know these as times where I began to grapple with the place of horses will occupy in my life and the larger questions of how we create the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Those moments I realized that my love of horses is not rooted in elitism but in compassion, the same compassion that I intend to bring to a career in agricultural policy.”

Lamb’s honors and awards are numerous and include Harry S. Truman Scholar in 2009, Virginia Tech’s prestigious Austin Michelle Cloyd Scholarship for Social Justice in 2008, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Foundation Academic Service Entrepreneur Grant in 2008, the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Presentation from the Virginia Social Sciences Association in 2007, and the Van Oss Scholarship for University Honors in 2006 and 2007.

Christina M. McIntyre, associate director, University Honors, says Lamb has a keen understanding of Virginia Tech and its motto. “I have no doubt that this impressive woman, who has demonstrated the core of what we mean by a servant-leader, will continue to help its most challenged populations move toward a better future.”

For her amazing display of commitment, ambition, and hard work, her dedication to academic excellence, service, research, and her passion to make a difference, Lamb was named Virginia Tech Undergraduate Woman of the Year for 2010. She is the daughter of Pete Lamb of Broomfield, Colo.

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