Dina is 16 and is currently undertaking the mammoth task of completing four years of the US programme in one year, alongside finishing her Russian education. Despite receiving offers from a number of US universities, Dina is looking to spend a year in Russia, taking some time out, furthering her knowledge, deciding on what she wants to study, and reapplying next year.

I was not a smart girl because I started thinking about applying to good universities only in the middle of November, which is very late for the US. Before that, I thought of applying to a college close to my relatives in Milwaukee. Although this college is not very good, I wanted to apply because it’s not very expensive to study there, and, at the time, I didn’t know about financial aid. I actually applied this year and did my SAT exam, but the results were not very good, because I did not have much time to prepare. I applied to many universities, and was offered places at Louisiana State University, Penn State University and Oregon University, but because of the strain and hard work this year, I’ve decided to stay in Russia, like a sort of gap year.

What are your plans for your gap year?

I need to decide what I really want. I know that I want to do Science, I always knew this. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but now I’m not so sure. I want to try not only Chemistry and Biology, but also Physics. I actually love all subjects! I will study, I will prepare for the SAT and ACT exams. I will pass all possible exams to reapply to universities next year. I also want to have extra classes in Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Further Maths.

Why did you choose the US; was it just because of family ties?

I’ve always wanted to go there. I wanted to be an actress when I was six years old, and I wanted to go to Hollywood, but of course that was just a dream. I really love the USA, and I, think this is one of the most improved countries and the most successful, especially in Medicine. Countries, like Germany, the United States and Israel are very good in Medicine. English is something that I’ve always liked and I have always wanted to live in an English speaking country. I’m not a big fan of living in Europe, and I think there are more opportunities for me in the United States.

I also really like that in American education you can change your area of expertise. So, if after a few months, you don’t like a subject you can change it.

Despite her mountain of work, Dina hasn’t forsaken her other interests, which range from theatre and literature, to viewing science experiments and visiting lectures. 

It’s very hard, because I’m always studying right now. I’ve always done singing, dancing, and although I’m not very good at them, I always try. I’m a big fan of theatre, even now, and I always went theatre and did speech writing. I love studying, I love getting knowledge and learning new things. I go to some universities for lectures to see happening in laboratories where chemical and biological experiments are conducted.

I’m also very interested in literature and I love reading and writing essays, stories and poems. I mostly write in Russian, but also I recently had a task to write a poem, and I wrote about Icarus. I read a lot of science fiction. I love some classic literature – I don’t like Gogol, but I really love Lermontov and Tolstoy. I read a lot of Gothic literature because, in American school, I read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe. I love the crazy, scary setting and characters. My favourite book of all time is Great Gatsby, I’ve watched all the movies, and I’ve read it in different languages, including German. I love reading in original languages. There are some Russian books that have been translated to English, and I’m scared of reading them, because it’s very interesting how they’re translated and sometimes the translator really misses the point.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

Right now I’m interested in biological, physical and chemical technologies. So, I would probably like to work in science. Next year, I would like to apply to MIT. Even though MIT is more focused on nuclear power and robots, I would like to try working with chemical technologies.

What’s your favourite thing about Algorithm A*?

I really love the teachers, both in the American school and the Russian school. In my previous school, teachers were kind of angry, and they always said we wouldn’t achieve anything. I was never been a very good pupil for this reason. Now, in Russian school I have 5 As and in American school I have an A and a B. In the Russian school I love my classmates. Although in American school I am alone, I like it, because it means you receive a lot more attention and you can understand what the teacher wants from you, even though sometimes, if you don’t know how to answer a question, there’s nobody there to help.

What one thing really sets you apart?

I am ready to do everything to achieve my goals – everything that is moral, of course. I will always study and get new knowledge. I guess, and I wrote this in my personal statement, my generation is really progressive, so we don’t see differences in people. I really hope that there won’t be things like defining people because of their race, nationality and sexual orientation. Even when you apply to university, you’re asked if you’re Black, Hispanic, and I don’t understand this. I don’t think it makes me special, or different, because a lot of my friends share this opinion. I don’t think people should be defined by how they look or their family background – how you treat a person it what they’ll become.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I hope I will be finished with university. I would like to have a family, I really want to have a husband and kids, and I hope I will have all of this by the time I’m 26. I’m a very family-orientated person. I really want to be a scientist. At a lot of American universities students do experiments to achieve some goals. In some universities, students try to find, for example, a cure for cancer. I want to be involved in something really great.

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