Manhasset Alumni Profiles No. 2: Priya Alagesan, Class of 2014


Ryan Chung and Max Kim

For our second alumnus profile, we were very excited to interview Priya Alagesan. Part of the class of 2014, Priya is now a Biology major at Duke University and has been engaging herself in many of the activities at Duke.

During her years in Manhasset, Priya quickly discovered her passion for science and dedicated the bulk of her time to the science research program. Following her experiences in multiple science fairs and with multiple projects, she decided to continue her research in college. Her work in the biochemistry lab at Duke has even driven her to work towards a journal publication. Acquiring a position in the lab was a very competitive procedure, and Priya has told us that her lab experience at Manhasset, from presenting at lab meetings and at fairs to poster sessions, “definitely” boosted her qualifications.

Outside of the lab, Priya has been occupying herself with new groups and experiences. Even though majoring in Biology is a challenge in itself, she also decided to minor in Global Health and Chemistry and is on the pre-med track. She is of the Duke University Marching Band (DUMB), which is a group that she joined to carry out the skills and enjoyment she experienced in Manhasset. Priya is also part of her house council, which plans events for her dorm, and Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science (FEMMES), an after school program that encourages girls to become involved in STEM. In preparation for medical school, she has been volunteering in the intensive care unit at Duke Hospital and at the Ronald McDonald House. Priya is also a member of Duke’s South Asian and Hindu student association, which allow her to stay in touch with her culture while at school.

Priya’s years at Manhasset truly prepared her for the rigors of college life. Thanks to all the accelerated classes and diverse extracurricular activities available, Priya was able to encounter a competitive environment at home and continue on the same path to success at Duke.

Here we posed a few questions to Priya:

Can you tell us more about the marching band program at Duke and how the marching band at Manhasset helped you there?

The marching band at Duke is a great group of people and has definitely been a big part of my career at Duke thus far. The MHS Marching Band provided me with an idea of what marching band is like and equipped me with the skills I needed to perform well. I was also a member of the wind ensemble, symphony orchestra, and jazz band when I was in high school. Music had been such a big part of high school for me that I wanted to continue playing horn in some way. However, performing arts tend to become more serious in college with bigger time commitments so marching band seemed like a great way to keep up with my playing and also participate in social events without fully dedicating myself to music. Band gets me into football and basketball games, which is pretty awesome. I even get to travel with the team to cool venues like Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium (or the Final Four if we make it), and get special gear and other free stuff. Also, since I am not part of any social living group (sorority, fraternity, etc.) the band provides a social scene that I am comfortable with.

How have you been adjusting to life at Duke and is there anything you would like to tell prospective students about the school?

After spending three semesters at Duke, I feel very at home. I really enjoy the classes that I am taking and the professors who are teaching them. I am never bored and can always find something interesting to do in my free time, ranging from attending an alternative dance performance to joining a protest. For prospective students, Duke is a wonderful place that offers an interesting combination of academics and fun. The community is diverse and supportive and there is a great sense of camaraderie that spans from the basketball court to the scientific laboratories. At any college, though, you are bound to run into some really difficult days with heavy workloads and/or multiple commitments. Although it can be a stressful environment at times, there is always someone to turn to or something that can be done to cope with stress.

What makes Manhasset so special to you?

I have lived in Manhasset almost my whole life, and the friends I have made throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years will continue to be a part of my life. The faculty in this school district is also wonderful, and their guidance and mentorship have helped me arrive at where I am today. When my college classmates and I discuss our hometowns and high schools, I am always impressed with the opportunities that this close-knit community afforded me in retrospect. After having spent some time away from home, I now realize how well Manhasset protected me from the outside world, and although it was nice while I was growing up, I now feel the need to expand my relationships and ideas to an even larger community. Nevertheless, Manhasset will always remain a warm and comforting place to return to.