Dr. Shobha Sriharan was a tenured full professor at Virginia State University from 1990 until her passing on February 8, 2023, when she died peacefully in her sleep in her home in Colonial Heights, Virginia, after a long battle with cancer. Throughout her battle, which she fought with vigor and strength, she continued to keep her students paramount in her mind and focused her energy on the passion of her life - teaching. She was well respected at her university and at others, where she sponsored grants and promoted collaboration for the betterment of participating students and academic programs.
Prior to teaching at Virginia State University, she completed her studies at Stanley Girls High School and her Master’s in Science from Osmania University, in Hyderabad, India. A few years later she received the first Doctoral Degree in her family, in Biology, in 1967, from the University of Toulouse in France, after which she went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany. From there she ventured to the United States. With the help of her brother, Prabhat and his wife Meenakshi, she found a home in New Orleans, Louisiana working at Louisiana State University Medical Center. She then transitioned to Indiana University, Bloomington, and later to her first faculty role at Selma University in Selma, Alabama. There, she became proficient in writing successfully funded federal grants for research, training and education. As her son Sravan finished high school, Dr. Shobha looked for additional opportunities to grow and contribute and soon found herself in Virginia at Virginia State University. Sravan joined Virginia Tech that same year while she began an incredible career at VSU that lasted until the day she died.
Because of her incredible skills in grant writing, her tenacity, and her willingness to follow through on opportunities that others would walk away from, she has brought several million dollars to VSU in grant monies. Because of these grants, domestic and international opportunities carried her students to multiple countries and throughout the United States. From Alaska to Florida and California to the Northeast, our nation’s educational institutions have reaped the benefits of Dr. Shobha Sriharan’s grant work. She built partnerships with multiple universities across the globe. Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Australia, Guyana, Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka are just a few of the countries she has touched. And more importantly to her, countries that her students touched. She has promoted VSU students on every continent except Antarctica.
“Dr. Shobha,” as many called her, was so well thought of and gave so much of herself to the University and to her students. She will be remembered for years to come because of her love of education, her dedication to her university, her loyalty to her administration, and her devotion to her students. At her passing, she had taught and mentored students at Virginia State University for over 30 years.
In addition to her remarkable career, she will be fondly remembered for her love for her family and friends and the great pleasure that she took in connecting people to one another.
Dr. Shobha was a valued member of the Colonial Heights Rotary Club and was broadly spiritual, following the teachings of Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda amongst other spiritual practices in keeping with her Hindu upbringing and faith.
She was predeceased by her father, Bankat Pershad, her mother, Shanta Devi, an older sister, Indira Saxena and her niece Rita Saxena.
Surviving family members include her son Sravan, daughter-in-law Anita and granddaughter Shanti. Also, her brothers Ramesh (Kamala), Surender (Rita), Prabhat (Meenakshi), her sister Rekha and her many beloved cousins, nephews, nieces, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her family thanks you all for your prayers and your love.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at the Colonial Heights Chapel of E. Alvin Small Funeral Homes and Crematory, 2033 Boulevard. In lieu of flowers contributions in memory of Dr. Shobha Sriharan may be made to Virginia State University via the following link https://giving.vsu.edu or by mail to Virginia State University, Office of Institutional Advancement, 1 Hayden Dr, Virginia State University, VA 23806 with checks payable to the VSU Foundation referencing Dr. Shobha Sriharan’s Memorial Fund.