SGA senator to graduate this spring at 16 with double major

Staff Writer

Manisha Verma, a senior at St. Edward’s University, is weeks away from her 16th birthday.

Verma transferred to St. Edward’s after earning an associate’s degree in government from Austin Community College. She was 12 when she started, 14 when she finished.

Home-schooled for a time and tutored by Rafael Venegas, the same man who taught her older sister, Verma is active in the Student Government Association..

“Knowing government is super important,” she said. “Government has a huge impact on everyone. When you know what’s going on and how it works, it allows you to better represent yourself.”

Double-majoring in communications and political science, Verma also has a minor in women’s studies.

“I’m into women’s rights because I am a woman,” she said. “Everyone should be treated equally, especially in this new era,” she said. “We all need to share our ideas in the pursuit of fairness.”

The Verma family started an organization called the Global Health Foundation.The focus of the foundation is simple: to help those in need across the world.

In 2012, Verma embarked on a trip to New Delhi to volunteer in an orphanage for the blind. The children lacked basic supplies, so she and her family took books from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and delivered them to the children. 

The foundation is looking to expand its horizons to other locations across the globe and focus on educating the youth. 

Despite the age gap between Verma and the rest of the student body, Verma feels welcome at St. Edward’s.

“I never felt out of place. If anything it was more awkward for my classmates than myself, being this young. I never had a problem getting along with the older students,” Verma said.

For Venegas, Verma’s success is no surprise.

“Manisha had always been very mature for her age,” he said. “She improved quickly and was a very hard worker. I believe that she has total control over her future.”

Free time is something almost foreign to Verma. On top of her double major, one minor and being an SGA senator, she’s busy creating an organization called Women Empowerment on campus. 

She said she believes there are specific steps that need to be taken towards women’s rights.

“First, women need to understand that there is no difference between genders. Our minds all work the same, so we are all equal,” she said. “Second, women need to group together and let the world know that they are capable. Social networking plays a big part in this movement.”

SGA Sen. Colin Stonecipher described Verma as a problem-solver. 

“She is someone who sees all sides of an issue and is adept at seeing possible conflicts, and coming up with solutions,” he said. 

Verma is not the only one in her family who is ahead in education. 

Her older sister, Natasha, has just received her master’s degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism at the age of 19. 

Verma’s plans for after college involve pursuing journalism, attending law school and continuing her quest to fight for women’s rights wherever she can. 

“It wasn’t necessarily planned for me to go to college this early,” Verma said. “My parents saw potential in me, and we decided to take this path.”