Senior Spotlight: Leila Moassessi

  • Student Life
Emily Dolan

Leila came to Sage Ridge in 9th grade from the Coral Academy of Science. A long-time golfer, Leila started playing on the boys’ golf  team at Sage Ridge because there was no girls’ team in existence at that time. At first, the NIAA (Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association) wouldn’t allow her to play with the boys, but eventually, the association agreed that she could join the team if she committed to starting a girls’ team at Sage Ridge and to playing for two years. The Reno Gazette Journal recently featured Leila as a High School Athlete of the Week: “Moassessi has won every girls golf tournament she has competed in during her sophomore, junior and senior years. She was the state 1A/2A champion in her sophomore and junior year.” On this past Monday, April 5th, Leila won this year’s version of the state championship, which was open to Western Nevada schools. As Mr. Thibault put it, “Sage Ridge has had a girls’ golf team for three years, and Sage Ridge girls’ golf has won states for three years. Leila has set the bar high for the team!”

On campus, Leila forged a path at Sage Ridge that would facilitate her ability to make a difference. As Student Body President, Leila has worked tirelessly to improve the student experience during this challenging pandemic year. She started new traditions like Happiness Week and Gratitude Week to lighten things up. Twice a week, Leila hosts campus and community meetings on Zoom. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the student body and faculty cannot physically convene in the Great Space as usual, so Leila builds community and boosts morale in our Zoom meetings with her positivity, her informative presentations, her fun videos, and terrible jokes. “Because of COVID, I had to scratch everything I had planned,” she says. “People are burned out, and it’s a stressful time, so I tried to find interesting methods to achieve my goals.” Through her resilience as a leader, her efforts to make a difference, and her respect for the well-being of the community, Leila has successfully mitigated some of the negative effects of the pandemic on school. Having led by example, she advises her fellow Scorpions to embrace the opportunity to make a difference: “You can make change in your own way, whether it’s little or small.” 

Leila has been making change happen in ways that are most meaningful to her. While all Sage Ridge students participate in community service, Leila sought opportunities that capitalized on her interests, talents, and desires for the world around her. She sought out First Tee, a nonprofit that teaches honesty, confidence, respect, and sportsmanship through golf, and the Nevada Youth Legislature, a program that gives high school students an opportunity to become involved in the legislative process. In college, Leila wants to study political science, international affairs, or the history of relations between the US and the Middle East. She has always loved researching things. Through her mother’s involvement in legislation, Leila fell in love with policy-making at a young age.  For her senior thesis, Leila has been studying American sanctions placed on Iran, and she will be working for a district court judge for her senior internship in May. According to Dr. McGann, Leila “is committed to making the world more fair and equitable.”


Leila looks back on her time at Sage Ridge as a journey of self-exploration. She recalls the beginning of her Sage Ridge career as a “hard adjustment,” both academically and socially. At first, she didn’t know if she would fit in with her peers. “I had to learn to pick and choose my battles, but each choice was a good opportunity to hear other perspectives and to share my own knowledge,” Leila says. She sees junior year as a turning point, when a strong confidence in her own values set it: “There are bigger things in life than being caught up in fitting in. I started to see myself for who I am.” The Sage Ridge community is better because Leila chose to be herself, and as she heads to college next year, the world beyond Crossbow Court will be, too.

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