UCL News


Seven questions with Navya Sharan

23 May 2018

This week we talk to second year Psychology student Navya Sharan from India who is about to take part in UCL's Global Citizenship Programme for the second time.

Navya Sharan

1. Why you are interested in Psychology and what do you plan to do in the future?

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with why people behave the way they do. Subsequently, this led me to study psychology. As an evolving discipline, psychology is no longer about just mental health - it's almost everywhere! One of the things that I love about psychology is that it is interdisciplinary. I was the Lecture Series Director for the Psychology Society this year and during my time in the committee, we organised a cross-disciplinary panel with Engineers Without Borders, Green Economy Society and the Civil Engineering Society on human well-being in cities.

Personally, I am interested in human-computer interaction. In my opinion, this is an imminent field given how we, as a society, are increasingly incorporating technology in our day-to-day life. I recently worked on a research project with a senior lecturer in the Department of Information Studies about the use of computer-based games for learning as opposed to traditional teaching methods. Branching out further, this summer, I will be conducting an independent project on the use of augmented reality in spatial navigation. In a technology-oriented world like ours, there is always so much to learn and explore and I look forward to doing just that!

2. What is the most interesting thing you've done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

I think my most riveting experience till date has been with the Global Citizenship Program.

I found out about it during induction week and last summer, I participated in the (Un)Urban strand. One of the amazing things about this was that we got out of UCL and were based in East London for one of the two weeks. We also received professional training in human-centred design, which was an added bonus.

Our main task was to develop a solution to convert a place called Cody Docks into a public space. To develop a solution, we had to interview the local residents of the area. For me, stepping out of my comfort zone and approaching people to interview them was challenging but I have definitely become bolder and more confident since.

I would recommend everyone to participate in this at least once. I am also participating in the social start-up pathway this year. For more information about the strand (including a testimony by me!) and to sign-up visit the Global Citizenship Programme website.

I have also recently completed a UCL ChangeMakers project about designing an interdisciplinary module between the computer science and psychology departments which was really interesting. You can still apply to get funding and support to help make changes at UCL - the deadline is 15 June.

3. Have you discovered any 'hidden gems' during your time at UCL?

I am an avid traveller. So, one of my favourite places is the Stanfords bookstore in Soho. It is walking distance from campus and is often not crowded. I enjoy going there and browsing through travelogues and guide books. There is also a quaint little café within the store if you work up an appetite after exploring four storeys worth of books.

4. Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London

· Southbank. Between views of the Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral and the London Eye, you can feel the beating heart of the city.

· Leicester square. There are amazing restaurants, the best plays and musicals at West End and of course, the M&M store!

· Canary Wharf. It is a beautiful blend of people, business, and urbanisation.

5. If you were Provost for the day, what one thing would you do?

Reduce the number of timed essay-based exams and move towards more application-based assessments. In my opinion, essays are not a test of understanding but rather a test of memory, which is fair if that is what needs to be tested. For most subjects, essay do not assess the ability to apply concepts and I think we, as students, need to be taught in a manner that reflects the demands of the real world.

6. Who inspires you and why?

Fran Drescher. I know that I am way out of my generation here and most readers would not even know who she is. She used to have a popular television series in the 90s known as 'The Nanny'. She inspires me because she is a strong, resilient woman who has taken personal adversity and turned it into something positive.

She was raped during a home invasion in the early part of her life, misdiagnosed for cancer for two years, was correctly diagnosed subsequently, battled cancer and came out to openly write about her experiences and stand by survivors of both rape and cancer. She started the Cancer Schmancer movement to promote the correct diagnoses of cancer. For her work, she was awarded the position of a U.S. diplomat. I aspire to have her strength, resilience and outlook on life.

7. What would it surprise people to know about you?

I have received professional training in rifle-shooting!