An outstanding student in a demanding science program – with a GPA of 99 – Nilanjana finds deep satisfaction in sharing her music with others, from children to senior citizens. Classically trained in traditional Indian music, and singing in various modern and ancient South Asian languages, she is accompanied by her harmonium, an organ-like instrument that she began to learn at the age of 5. 

“Through vocalizing classical ragas/taans, keeping up with rapid-fire enunciation and subtle tonality changes,” she wrote in her essay, “seeing the smiles of my audience makes all the practice worth it. It’s the pure bliss in playing an instrument I love, while singing, along with an audience filled with individuals who come together to de-stress and unwind, that I realize what true contentment is.”

Nilanjana, whose home is sprinkled with the sounds of languages ranging from Bangla to Hindi to Japanese, arrived here with her family 13 years ago. Enrolled in a renowned science program, she is also the president of a council that represents those STEM students, organizing presentations and mentoring students.  

Her college counselor, noting that Nilanjana “has been taking the most advanced science and math courses for students interested in pursuing careers related to science, technology, engineering, and math,” summed up her prospects: “She has the strength to meet any challenge and the intellectual ability to contribute in the demanding academic climate. I am proud to offer her my highest recommendation.”

Nilanjana expects to study neuroscience. Her medical focus has powerful roots, as she’s witnessed how the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affected her dear loved ones with neuroinflammatory symptoms pulsating through their joints and nerves. Nilanjana has learned “that the lack of effective treatments for patients with autoimmune diseases meant that there'd always be people in dire pain, no matter the medication.” With her focus on medicine, Nilanjana wrote, “Every day I am closer to aiding those whose bodies prohibit solace.”

Various  teachers/mentors I’ve met through my educational journey have either comforted me, beautifully guided me, continuously answered my questions, or even sat down and gave me the courage to find my voice. But if I had to choose, I would say that my music teacher/guru Tapan Kanti Baidya has made a considerable amount of positive influence in my life. He’s my classical music teacher, and I’ve known him for a very long time. He’s always supported me during my performances, and I feel confident and more assured in myself, when I think about the admirable feats he’s achieved, and I'm inspired to do the same. He’s always guided me, and taught me the importance of preparation and a can-do-attitude, in navigating every aspect of life.