All of 22 years old, Avanti Nagral is pursuing a dual degree at both Harvard university and Berklee College of Music. Her father loves playing the tabla out of passion and her mother is extremely spiritual, so she grew up with a lot of music around, especially the devotional kind. She started training in Indian Classical Music under the tutelage of Dr. Prabha Atre. She also played the western classical piano since she was little. Much later, she did professional theater which enabled her to train with Broadway-oriented style. Although her music is now more in the global pop world.
Given that she’d always been musically inclined and often jokes about how music happened to her in-utero, we were curious to know how Harvard came about. She says, “Honestly, no one knows how Harvard happens to them, because it is so difficult to get in, but I was a good student, had a well-rounded application, and presented a strong narrative that clearly convinced them to take me! I’m majoring in Psychology with a minor in Global Health/Health Policy because that is also something that always interested me.”
We know what you’re thinking – how do you do a double major from 2 leading universities at the same time. More so, when you’re the first person in the world to be pursing it. “The way it works is that you apply to both colleges (Harvard and the Berklee College of Music) separately. If you happen to be accepted into both, you are evaluated by a committee that determines if they think you can manage attending both the schools at the same time, after which you are accepted as a dual degree student. I was already at Harvard, so applied to Berklee during my Freshman Year, and once I was accepted, was evaluated by the committee. I’ll actually be the first student to graduate from the program,” she adds.
Avanti recently released a mega promo for her online series – ‘Song On The Spot’ which features content creators across spaces that combines the art of music, storytelling & improv. It has a live show format, creator-based format, and brand-based format, and has over 3M+ views online. They have a lot of interesting collaborations lined up, that we can’t wait to see!
Sounds like a dream life, right? Well it is, but here’s what the BTS looks like – Berklee & Harvard are only a bus ride away, so she spends a LOT of her time back and forth on the bus. She also travels a lot for her music career – both within the US and back and forth to Bombay, so she’s used to traveling whether it’s between two schools or two countries! Sometimes in a given day she commutes back and forth between both institutions multiple times, which can definitely take a toll, but time management goes a long way for her.
You know how they say, what doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger! Avanti has had one such experience when she was younger. “When I was 16, I lost eyesight in my left eye. It was temporary – because it was a brain virus that affected my optic nerve – and reversible, but the recovery process was HARD. It wasn’t just about simply learning to let myself recover and be patient, but also because I felt like my brain had been rebooted, in a way that I didn’t remember anything academically (and my 10th grade prelims were in a couple months). It was hard being able to reclaim that, but what got me through all of it was – music. It was personally healing for me, but also became a medium that I hoped to use to create larger impact in the future, which it one of my current biggest drivers,” says Avanti.
Here she is, just a few years later, as the first person in the world to double major from two of the most leading universities in the world. Honestly, if her story doesn’t inspire you, we don’t know what can. Oh, maybe her series #SongOnTheSpot will!
Check her out – Instagram