College grows under Sharma’s leadership
Mahesh C. Sharma’s teaching success as a world-famous mathematics professor who can bring students with learning disabilities up to speed — and the success of Cambridge College under his reign as president — is well known.
When he started with the college in 1973, the student population was only 100. That has since grown to more than 8,000 at several locations throughout the state, including Springfield and Lawrence, as well as at six hospitals in the Boston area, where the college offers one of its certification courses — programs to train medical interpreters who can translate vital medical information in several languages.
“Every hospital emergency room must have interpreters,” Sharma said. The languages in which the interpreters are fluent include Spanish, Haitian, Creole, Chinese, Portuguese and Russian.
In addition, the school has satellite branches in Virginia, Georgia and Puerto Rico.
“Our reach … is getting wider and wider,” Sharma says. Cambridge College now offers four undergraduate degree programs: bachelor of science degrees in managerial science and human service and bachelor of arts degrees in multidisciplinary studies and psychiatry.
“We will continue to expand programmatically and geographically,” he said.
Students can earn an Ed.D. from Cambridge College through the doctorate in education program approved by the Board of Higher Education, and credits from Cambridge College are widely transferable. “Several of our graduates have recorded their doctorates from Harvard,” Sharma said proudly.
Nevertheless, Cambridge College is still designed for people who at the age of 18 or 19 had to go to work at a time in their lives when “being on the dean’s list was not their goal.” But young people find out that they need a college education, he said, which is why institutions such as Cambridge College exist.
They are a starting point, a place where students can play catch-up with their education, and one of the biggest selling points for the college remains its affordable tuition.
“Cambridge College is at the juncture of public and private education,” Sharma said, adding that it also has the lowest tuition among the private colleges. “We are very close to the state colleges and universities. Leslie, for instance costs about $800 per credit, as opposed to Cambridge College, which is less than $400 per credit.”
Sharma calls Cambridge College “a microcosm of America” because of its purpose, which is to provide educational opportunities to those who otherwise not be able to afford it.
He also says it is the most diverse college in America.
The college is racially diverse and the age of students ranges from 26 to 60, with the average being around 40.
And to realize the American Dream, places such as Cambridge College are needed if for no other reason, he said in a recent speech, than to provide a “level playing field.”
“That dream is denied to more and more people, including citizens, because they are not able to participate in higher education — the only equalizer of the inequities.”