Aanand Mehta, a dynamic 2023 Carson Scholar from Phoenix, Arizona, is committed to improving the lives of others by merging his talents and passions. Aspiring to become a physician and researcher, Aanand is equally passionate about music and community service. Provided with numerous opportunities to pursue his interests in medicine, music, and volunteering, he aims to create a future that allows him to explore the interplay between these special interests.
Musically, Aanand began learning the ancient, improvised art of Indian Classical singing in 2010 to stay closely connected to his culture as a first-generation Indian American. More than a dozen years later, he completed his Sangeet Visharad (bachelor’s degree) in Indian Classical singing – a feat that required seven years of rigorous musical theory exams. Aanand also excels at playing the cello and has served as principal cellist for several orchestras, most proudly with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Phoenix Youth Symphony and has qualified as an All-State cellist. Aanand’s musical studies cultivated a strong interest in the relationship between music and volunteering, leading him to volunteer at the Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona (NMTSA). There, he assists music therapists in helping neurodivergent children, witnessing the beneficial effects of music therapy on neuromuscular function. Aanand founded the musical group, Musical Minds, which performs concerts at geriatric facilities.
Volunteering at NMTSA inspired Aanand to focus on helping children with developmental disabilities. Recognizing that he was blessed to be able to express himself through movement that many children are unable to do, Aanand founded Magical Motors, a 501(c)(3) organization. Seeking to develop a more equitable environment, where each child has the opportunity to experience independent mobility, Magical Motors provides assistive technologies to children with developmental disabilities. Through his initiative Aanand and his team strive to cultivate social and motor growth in children with developmental disabilities ages three to eight through modifying ride-on toy cars, making them accessible for kids to drive.
Magical Motors not only modifies cars but also created a curriculum for students to follow to learn how to modify cars, fostering STEM, teamwork and leadership skills. The organization has involved over 500 people, from children with developmental disabilities to leaders of international STEM programs, in their process. They have donated over 20 cars to children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, sacral agenesis, and spina bifida. They also organize build events (where they build three to five cars simultaneously with a group of volunteers) with organizations such as the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of Arizona College of Medicine and Union Pacific. They have worked with STEM organizations that cater to student education and with dozens of schools across four states to implement their curriculum and make the process of learning how to build accessible and standardized. Their latest initiative includes using the cars as transport devices in the pediatric perioperative environment and as rehabilitation devices in pediatric burn clinics.
Aanand’s dedication extends to medical research, including work at the University of Arizona College of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He wrote a review on the effect of a musician practicing their specific instrument on the probability that they later develop carpal tunnel syndrome. He was also a TEDx Talk Speaker in July 2022, Aanand received the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2021 and was a National Kids Reporter for Time for Kids in 2017.
Aanand’s future is bright! He is certain to make an impact across many fields as he continues to hone his skills. Currently he is working on college applications, and we are excited to see what his next academic adventure brings!