Dancing to the beat of his own piano helped this mathlete find his fit

Music, especially playing the piano, has always helped Rahil Vaknalli connect with people. Growing up playing instruments, Rahil realized he was fortunate to have a family who supported his love of music, as so many people around him were discouraged from pursuing music because of it’s lack of stability as a career choice, or because of their own lack of advantages.

Invested as he was in spreading the joy of music, Rahil decided he wanted to offer young people opportunities to play music irrespective of their social or economic status. At the age of 17, he created DECIBEL, a music festival designed to showcase the talent of underprivileged students, along with musicians from affluent international schools. He approached Brett Lee’s Mewsic India Foundation, an NGO that supports musically inclined children from local slums, to collaborate, and the proceeds from the festival were used to sponsor instruments and award music scholarships for the Mewsic Foundation students.

Rahil’s other passion is mathematics. When his school didn’t have the framework to support mathematics competitions, Rahil contacted Transition Lab Preparatory School, to collaborate with likeminded students to start “Math Pirates,” a Chi Alpha Mumath chapter in India.

When he came to The Red Pen, Rahil was looking for a program abroad that would help him pursue everything he loves. Having spent summers studying at Brown and Yale he knew that education could be illuminating and diverse, and wanted to find a college that could encourage his interests in cognitive science and the way music affects the human brain with opportunities for hands on learning and research. Rahil wanted a vibrant university in an urban center, and he found that in University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)! We helped Rahil brainstorm and link his many interests into a cohesive narrative that highlighted his multiplicity and his drive.

– Rahil, UCLA

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