Northwestern Magazine
Senior Watch
More Photos:
Rupali Sharma

Packing a Punch

When it comes to women’s rights, Rupali Sharma is in for the long haul.

The political science and gender studies major from Edison, N.J., has volunteered at a domestic violence shelter. She is editor of Juice!, Northwestern’s feminist magazine, and a co-chair of Take Back the Night.

Sharma, whose parents were raised as observant Hindus in India, was born in the United States. Growing up, she saw female family members and friends discriminated against through a system of gender-based values. Many women were not allowed to travel alone. They were required to dress modestly and were pressured to marry. 

 “My activities at Northwestern let me politicize those personal issues and start doing something about them,” she says.

For her senior honors thesis, she interviewed Muslim American women concerning the political and sexual implications of veiling. She found that women use the visibility of the veil to try to change people’s notions of U.S. citizenship, to represent Muslim women, to institute “modest” gender relations and to forge an identity.

Sharma plans to go to law school and afterward represent women who have little economic means or are unaware of their rights to legal aid. 

Sharma has one other secret ambition. She wants to win a boxing match. She has trained since the summer before her junior year. “My parents don’t know because they’d probably freak out,” she says.

— Robert Brenner (J07)

Photo by Andrew Campbell