Ashish Sharma, Quantitative Economics & Econometrics, Data Science

Supporting family while pursuing dual graduate degrees


Name: Ashish Sharma

College: Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences; College of Engineering and Technology

Majors: M.S. in Quantitative Economics and Econometrics; M.S. in Data Science

Age: 38

Classification/Year: Graduate student

Hometown: Punjab, India

Hobbies/interests: Playing sports and traveling


Favorite hangouts: ECU’s Main Campus Student Center, Pitt Street Brewing Company and Sup Dogs in Greenville

Favorite places on campus: Main Campus Student Center and Joyner Library

Favorite places to eat: NC Spices Nepalese & Indian Cusine and Red Robin

Favorite classes: Mathematics, economics, and natural language processing

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Lester Zeager, professor of economics


Dream job: Data scientist at Google

Role model: Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google

Your words to live by: “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” — Estée Lauder

What advice do you have for other students? Get into a routine and strive for a good school-life balance. It’s important for your health and happiness.

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? The ECU Purple Pantry is a great resource, especially for student parents. It has things my family needs, like diapers and snacks, which have been very helpful. Finding these kinds of support programs early on can make a big difference in balancing being a parent and going to school.

Courage, perseverance and time management are a few skills East Carolina University international graduate student Ashish Sharma and his family demonstrate in droves. Originally from Punjab, India, Sharma supported his wife Nidhi through her two graduate degrees from ECU – a master of arts in international studies (’20) and a master of science in quantitative economics and econometrics (’22). While they were both pursuing their degrees, their daughter was born and their young son had open-heart surgery in Charlotte, requiring a one-month stay for recovery.

This week, Sharma’s dedication pays off as he earns dual degrees from ECU, a master of science in quantitative economics and econometrics from the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and a master of science in data science from the College of Engineering and Technology.

With an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and more than a decade of industry experience, including a significant tenure at Samsung India Electronics, Sharma developed a strong interest in quantitative analysis, statistics and visual analytics.

“My work often involved data analysis, which I found both challenging and rewarding,” he said. “The programs at ECU were particularly attractive to me because they offer a deep dive into these areas. They align perfectly with my background and my ambitions to further enhance my skills in handling data and extracting meaningful insights. Essentially, ECU presented the perfect opportunity to bridge my experience with my future goals.”

Along with his professional interests, Sharma said his wife’s positive experience and valuable insights as a student influenced his decision to pursue degrees at ECU, preparing him for the next exciting step in his future.

“Her journey inspired me, and I’ve always aspired to have a solid educational foundation from a reputable institution like ECU,” he said. “Her belief in me and her gentle nudge to return to academia were instrumental in my decision. She saw potential in me that I hadn’t fully recognized, and her encouragement was a deciding factor.”

Both Sharma and his wife like that ECU is very student-centric and offers a multitude of services to support students, including 24-hour access at Joyner Library, graduate student assistantships and a daycare center that is open during the summer. Sharma also said ECU provided support while his family dealt with struggles.

“When I think about our schoolwork and family life, it seems like we’ve been through a lot of tough times,” Sharma said. “The emotional and physical demands were high. Our family’s strength was put to the test when my wife got pregnant and then gave birth while she was pursuing her second degree, and our older child had major heart surgery.

“We didn’t have any outside help, so it was just the two of us. I had to support my wife, take care of our kids, run the home and study at the same time. It was hard to find a balance but we always made sure our kids felt loved and cared for,” he said.

“In addition to determination, being able to talk to my teachers freely was also very important for getting through these tough times,” he said. “Their understanding and willingness to be flexible, like giving me extra time when I needed it, was very important to my success. Everyone at ECU played a big role in helping us succeed despite the odds, and we are very thankful for that.”