Lavanya Vemsani, a professor of history at the Social Sciences Department of Shawnee State University (SSU), was recently elected Vice President and President-Elect of the Ohio Academy of History. She feels especially honoured because she’s the first Indian to hold the post.
Professor Vemsani’s primary motivation in life is her love for her subject, which is quite easy to figure out if you spend a few minutes talking to her. “I have taught courses on history and religion at SSU for over ten years. It’s my privilege to serve the profession of history and the community of current and future historians at this crucial juncture when it is becoming increasingly important to understand the human experience on Earth,” she says.
In her capacity as Vice President, she will be involved in all the activities and programmes organised by the Ohio Academy of History over the next two years. She aims to focus on regional history with a global outlook. Talking about the work that the Academy is doing, she says, “We advise the State Government on matters related to museums and school curriculums. We also provide guidelines to schools with regard to social sciences.”
She adds, “We intend to bring together teachers, scholars, public historians, and students interested in history. And we aim to promote the development and dissemination of historical knowledge among the citizens and students of Ohio.”
A native of Ashnagurthy village in Khammam, Professor Vemsani has come a long way since obtaining a PhD from the University of Hyderabad. She moved to Canada to pursue research, obtained a second PhD in religious studies from McMaster University, and then joined SSU as a professor in the year 2006.
Reflecting on her journey, she says, “Working abroad has given me a different perspective. Exposure to diverse cultures has given me an insight into world history. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to work with intellectuals in the field of history over the years; it’s been a satisfying experience.”
Professor Vemsani has also authored two books Krishna in History, Thought and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Lord of Many Names, and Hindu and Jain Mythology of Balarama. She says that she owes her accomplishments to her family and friends, who have always been supportive of her career. The professor hasn’t forgotten her roots too. Her family has donated ten acres of land for the construction of a school in Ashnagurthy. “My father worked as a headmaster in Khammam, and that inspired me to take up teaching. Now, I want to give back,” she says....