Daksha Magesh came to the Schar School after graduating from the Tesla STEM High School in her home of Seattle, Washington. The first-year government and international politics student brought with her the sort of resume that makes public policy employers’ eyes grow wide: She’s interned with a state senator, served as a legislative page, collaborated on two senate campaigns, worked for a mental health nonprofit, and performed scientific research in music and learning.
How did she come to George Mason University? After all, there are a lot of colleges between Seattle and Fairfax, Virginia.
“When I was in the eighth grade, I came to [Washington,] D.C. for the first time on a school trip and absolutely fell in love with the city,” Magesh said. “I was awestruck. There was this representation of wanting to do better, of wanting to see a future in which everyone can thrive together as a community.
“When I was [researching] George Mason I saw that potential. I saw the potential to be a community that works together toward change. It combined everything I was looking for.”
Once she arrived, the Honors College student found the school allowed for personal growth as well. “I was looking for an opportunity to expand. I wanted to find a community of people who would push me to do my best, to help me reach my full potential,” she said. “I found that.”
Magesh had vital support of key employers throughout high school, including Washington State Senator Manka Dhingra, who represents Seattle in the 45th District.
“She was a mentor and role model to me,” Magesh said. “As an intern, I did everything from phone banking to canvassing. But getting to work on the senate floor was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
In addition to the internship, Magesh worked for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a nonprofit that advocates for family members of those diagnosed with mental illness. Meanwhile, in her spare time, she was a dancer with a Bollywood dance troupe that happened to raise funds for charities.
“One year, the proceeds [of the Bollywood concert] went to NAMI,” she said. “Two sides of my life came together and it was really cool to do something I love and also contribute to a good cause.”
In addition to being interested in policy and mental health, she also enjoys neuroscience. In fact, a paper she wrote as a high school junior combined her love of music with her passion for science.
“I wrote a research paper on beta wave measurement and how that correlates to academic excellence and music,” she said. “I've always been interested in how the brain works, so I rewired an electric encephalogram and used that to measure students' brain waves while they listened to different types of music and completed a math test.”
The paper, “Examining Correlation Between the Genre of Music Present & Increased Academic Performance Through Beta Wave Measurement,” was published in the Journal of Student Research, an achievement of its own.
Magesh is one of this year’s Schar Scholars scholarship recipients. The program provides financial support to students majoring in public administration or government and international politics.
“It’s exciting to see the experiences and energy that our Schar Scholars bring to Mason,” said Shannon Williams, assistant dean for student engagement at the Schar School. “Daksha is in her first year here, and she hasn’t wasted any time welcoming the connections she has discovered and opening up new possibilities for herself and her Schar School community.”
Magesh’s academic studies during her first year at the Schar School have not slowed her down. In fact, she’s even more inspired.
“I see the drive, passion, and ambition,” she said of the school. “It's really interesting to come here and know I made the right choice.”