Alumni Snapshots: Q&A with Sharita Manickam '97
Alumni Director Carrie MacVean Grimes '91 recently caught wind of a wonderful new children's book, written by none other than a Severn alumna! She was excited to recently connected with Sharita Manickam '97 to hear more about writing, motherhood, and the Severn mentors who helped shape her path.
Tell us a few highlights of your journey since you graduated from Severn. After Severn, I graduated from the University of Maryland with a double degree in Marketing and Information Systems. I moved to NYC and the first job I got in New York was at a small marketing firm where I found out on my first day on the job that my boss was formerly a cult leader in Los Angeles in the 1970’s! I decided to leave and got a job in marketing and promotions at a radio network, where I worked for the next 8 years. After my first daughter was born, I quit my job so I could stay at home with her, but a year later, I sold a project to NBC that I had co-created. Developing the show was an amazing experience--beating the odds to get a show into network development taught me it’s possible to reach any dream. Which led me to my newly released children’s book, “RAD Girl Revolution.” RAD stands for “Rise Above Doubt” and “Reach Any Dream”. As the mother of two little girls, I want them to always follow their passions and know that if they work hard, anything is possible!
What has surprised you about your path? When I took that first job, I had received another job offer on the same day. At the time I thought I had made the wrong choice, but if it wasn’t for that decision, I don’t know if I would have had these passion projects. There are no right and wrong paths, but sometimes life moves us in a different direction than we thought we were going.
Who has been an inspiration to you in your personal and/or professional life? My grandmother was a champion of women's rights and one of the first women to drive in her home city in India. She was constantly learning new skills throughout her life. Her example taught me from an early age to not be afraid to try new things and to not let other people stop you from pursuing your dreams. My brother (Sanjay '92) has also been an inspiration in my professional life. He's an entrepreneur and someone I turn to for business advice.
What is your “why”? (What motivates you/gives you a compass)? My children are my motivation. I want to set a good example for them by having a strong work ethic and pursuing my passions.
Who was a mentor to you at Severn and what wisdom/guidance did they impart to you that’s still a part of who you are? I had a lot of great teachers at Severn, but I especially remember Mrs. Duncan fondly. She was my homeroom advisor and I took independent art with her, so I spent a lot of time in her art room. I remember her always giving thoughtful guidance and being someone all the kids could go to for advice. In fact, I just remembered that I wrote a poem about her for Dr. Baugh's creative writing class. The subject was a teacher who inspires you.
Severn School in one sentence. Severn School is a solid foundation for the rest of your life!