"I always wanted to teach," said Dr. Sharmistha Self. "However, teaching at the university level intimidated me when I was young because I am small person. Today, when I stand in front of a classroom, I know that teaching is my calling. I feel so blessed to be teaching."
Dr. Self also loves doing research. "It gives me a lot of pleasure. It's my release, when I can tell my kids, 'Mom needs some time alone to do her research.'"
Dr. Self moved to the United States to pursue higher education and finished her doctorate in 2002. She then taught at St. John's University in Minnesota for a few years until she decided to move to Missouri State. "Missouri State was well-rounded with emphasis on both teaching and research, so I decided to come here."
She was uncertain what to expect when she first came to Missouri State, but she has since become happy being a professor here. "I've built some lifelong relationships with my students. I've also gotten to know my colleagues. I feel like a part of this university; it feels like a family to me."
Dr. Self has a wide variety of research interests, including developmental economics, the study of economic development in developing countries around the world.
"It's a focused field of research with immense possibilities, so I am asking and answering questions that have never been asked before. The same economic policies applied in different situations around the world don't always work; why is that? What differences determine whether an economic policy succeeds or fails?"
Her research questions include questions about economics of gender, education, health and poverty as well as questions about economic sustainability. "There are so many questions!" she said.
Dr. Self seeks to learn from her students as she encourages them to learn from her.
"I want my students to understand why we are where we are, how we got here, where we are going and so on," she said. "I see the look on students' faces when I teach them something that they didn't know or hadn't thought about. It helps me feel connected with them. My students learn from me and I from them; every class I teach is a learning experience for me too."
"We at the University are constantly looking for new ways to help students succeed," she said. "But much of that is also up to the student. Students should take initiative in their education if they want to get the most out of it."