Alumni Spotlight: Ajay Vasisht '16 Uses His Voice to Entertain and Shine a Spotlight
Ajay Vasisht '16 uses music to connect with others. Now a junior at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the a capella group, Penn Masala, Mr. Vasisht and his fellow performers are also using their voices to speak up about mental illness. “There is huge pressure in the South Asian community to achieve. Many of us are first-generation and we are expected to perform. When we’re struggling, we think it’s better to hide it than open up to our friends and families.
The group released a video, “Everglow/ Kaise Muhje” (view video HERE) on February 23, and like all of their music, it’s a mashup of English and Hindi lyrics, but this one has a dual purpose as well. "It aims to inspire and spark conversations about mental health. We recognize that there is a stigma around mental wellness, manifesting in people avoiding professional help and burying these issues below the surface. This video hopes to bring this topic to the forefront."
Promoting awareness is something Mr. Vasisht honed at Hun. “I helped create the Masala Club (at Hun) to increase exposure to Indian culture.” He was also actively involved in the performing arts at the School, and joined the a cappella group, Voice Male, which he credits with opening his eyes to the art form. “That group got me interested for the collegiate level, while Ms. Watts and Mr. Brown helped me flesh out my path. At Hun, there were people passionate about what they did and the willingness on the part of the faculty to help you on your route was reassuring. I have come to expect that, and looked for that at Penn, because to surround yourself with that only makes you better.”
Mr. Vasisht recently put that mindset to practice, as he and his fellow Masala performers were given the rare opportunity to collaborate on the song with Indian hitmaker Benny Dayal, who first sang Kaise Muhje and performs it alongside Mr. Vasisht in the video. “We traveled to India over winter break, worked with Benny, met Bollywood actors and actresses, and were able to see how the music and film industries in India really work.”
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school. Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.