top of page

Q&A: Meet Aani Nagaiah

Meet Aani Nagaiah, a Phoenix native and student at Arcadia High School, who has just received the Alisa's Angels scholarship. She plans to study Health and Human Sciences at USC, aiming to continue making a difference in people's lives. Aani isn’t just a top student—she’s also a co-founder of “Our Ode to You," a free arts program for the elderly, run by teens. Her story shows how one person's passion can bring people together and make life a little brighter for those who need it most.

What inspired you to apply for the Alisa’s Angels Scholarship?

I was inspired by the mission that Alisa’s Angels embodies, which focuses on helping youth who help others. The foundation’s commitment to service and community resonated with my own values and experiences.

Can you share a moment or experience from high school that shaped who you are today?

Hosting the first meeting of Our Ode To You was a pivotal moment. We had far more support than I’d ever imagined, and it was mostly from the younger grades and people who I’ve never even seen before! It really brought together the school and collected the people who are interested in helping others and sharing their passions, so that was a very inspiring moment that helped me to continue my efforts.

Who has been your biggest role model or mentor, and how have they influenced your journey?

My biggest role model is my old band teacher, Mr. Gardner. He endured the school administration and teachers continuously oppressing his ideas and dismissing his achievements. Within all of this, he taught us all to love what you do even if you don’t always get the credit you deserve, which was really inspiring. 

What are you most excited about as you embark on your future plans?

I am so excited to learn more about the other half of my passions in medicine through majoring in Health and Human Sciences at USC, and even potentially walk-on the cross country team! In terms of my nonprofit, we have ambitious plans to expand.

How do you hope to make a difference in your community or field of study?

Throughout all my passions, I hope to simply make people feel valued and heard. Through combining medical anthropology and the social aspect of medicine, I’ll be able to make diverse patients feel welcomed. Through my nonprofit, I want to make the overlooked population of elderly folk, specifically in memory care, live enjoyable lives again through engaging creative workshops.

What is a personal achievement or milestone you are particularly proud of?

Raising $25,000 for a veteran memory care home has been one of Our Ode To You’s greatest achievements. Personally, winning scholarships like Alisa’s Angels are my greatest achievements because it feels good to be rewarded by a group of people with strictly wholesome intentions.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or interests outside of academics?

I love to run! I’ve been doing half-marathons for a couple years now and I’m working towards a full one in the near future. I also love to draw and watch sports, specifically soccer and basketball! 

How did your high school experience prepare you for your future endeavors?

Going to a public school, I was surrounded by a diverse range of opinions that often didn’t align with what I stood by. By being in this environment, I know how to interact with people and be a better person!

Can you share a challenge you’ve overcome and what you learned from it?

A challenge I faced was balancing academics with my family life and responsibilities as a nonprofit owner and athlete. It helped me understand when to seek support and understand that everyone is human at the end of the day.

What advice would you give to future applicants of the Alisa’s Angels Scholarship?

I would advise future applicants to stay true to their passions and demonstrate their genuine commitment to service. It’s important to reflect on how their experiences have shaped their desire to help others and to convey that in their application.


bottom of page