Making a difference in the lives of others – not money or fame, is how Disha Dasgupta, a junior at Olathe North High School in Kansas, measures her success. Since 2013, she has been an active member of The City of Olathe Teen Council. Building partnerships with the Olathe Police Department and high school students to reduce violence, running community food drives to feed the hungry, and starting “It Matters”, a campaign for combating drug and alcohol use are some of the initiatives Disha and the Olathe Teen Council led during the last two years.
Disha’s love for volunteering spreads beyond Olathe Teen Council. She is president of her school’s Spanish Honor Society and a founding member of the Optimist club. Disha provides free piano and math lessons to girls who can’t afford paid lessons. Additionally, Disha provided free basic computer training to ten elementary and middle school students when she visited India, the country where her parents are from.
Participating and promoting “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) are Disha’s passions. As a leading member of her school’s Kansas State Champion Science Olympiad team, she represented the State of Kansas at nationals for last two years. Additionally, her team was named a finalist in the “HiMCM” (High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling), an honor only given seven percent of students in the nation. Disha also founded the “Girls Who Code” club at her school, a program designed to kindle young girls’ interest in computer science. Furthermore, she started “LuvStem”, a program for encouraging K-12 students to actively participate in STEM.
Disha, an aspiring Computational Neuroscientist, dreams of curing neurological disorders and injuries. Since seventh grade, Disha has been researching at the Molecular Biosciences and Neuroscience lab at the University of Kansas. Her research has earned multiple recognitions – finalist in Intel “ISEF” (International Science & Engineering Fair), first place in the tri-state regional “JSHS” (Junior Science and Humanities), and the overall winner in “KJAS” (Kansas Junior Academy of Science), among others.
Disha has been playing piano since kindergarten. After completing her homework for her six AP classes, Disha finds peace when she first strikes the C key on the piano to play Bach’s “Prelude & Fugue in C Minor”.
Although she does strive for personal growth, Disha believes that volunteering adds significance to her life. “Volunteering in my community is the first step to leaving a positive impact on society,” she said. “At the end of life, I won’t remember my grades in school, the clothes I wore, or how much money I made. I will only remember what I did to change the world.”