The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
Brilliant Young Scientist to Study Biochemistry at Imperial College London

Anastasia “Nastya” Kolesnikova ’18 (Russia) will pursue a degree in Biochemistry at Imperial College London, choosing the world-class university over University of St Andrews, University of York, and University of Birmingham. She also earned an interview with the University of Cambridge but came up just short in the admissions process.

Nastya attended TASIS for eight years and leaves behind a sterling academic legacy highlighted by a 4.0 GPA, 40 points on her IB Diploma assessment—including a perfect 7 on the Higher-Level (HL) Chemistry and Biology exams and the Standard-Level (SL) Art History and French B exams—and an induction to the TASIS Cum Laude Society chapter. She capped her remarkable high school career by delivering an excellent speech at the 2018 Senior Banquet and earning the Salutatorian Scholarship Award and Excellence in Science Award at her class’s Commencement Ceremony the following morning.

The founder of the TASIS Physics Club, Nastya’s science achievements have stood out on the world stage, and she recapped her experience at Physics Week in Zurich and at the Swiss Young Physicists' Tournament in Lausanne on the TASIS Blog—one of many articles she wrote over the course of her final two years at the School. She is fluent in four languages—Russian, English, French, and Italian—and was an exceptional humanities student at TASIS in spite of the fact that she accomplished the rare feat of taking three IB science classes in one year and considers biochemistry to be “the best thing on earth.” She was also a member of the High School Choir, was chosen to perform in the 60th-anniversary professional production of MCF: What a Life! in the summer of 2016, was a student leader for the School’s inaugural Global Service Program trip to Moldova, and was a captain, MVP, and Coach’s Award recipient for the Varsity Swimming team.

With so many gifts at her disposal, it’s not surprising that it took Nastya some time to establish a career path. “I first wanted to be a writer, then a teacher, then an actress, then a chemical engineer, and now a biochemist,” she said. “I got very into science around seventh grade—chemistry in particular—and also developed an interest in theater around that time. I then discovered genetics in ninth grade and biochemistry in 10th.”

I first wanted to be a writer, then a teacher, then an actress, then a chemical engineer, and now a biochemist.

Once she settled on a course of study, Nastya relied upon veteran UK University Counselor Howard Stickley to help her achieve her goals. “In addition to having the best sense of humor, Mr. Stickley was an excellent help in the application process,” she said. “Not only did he help me with my personal statement (to be fair, it was a lot of work because I had two very different drafts written and am a very indecisive person), but he also coached me on every step of my application to Cambridge, arranging numerous practice interviews and giving me feedback. He even stayed behind in his office to supervise me while I was doing my entrance exam and emotionally supported me throughout the process.”

It is the close bond she formed with caring educators such as Mr. Stickley that Nastya will miss most about her time at TASIS, and she offered the following words of gratitude for several other teachers who helped make her eight-year journey an unforgettable one.

[Former Elementary School teachers] Mr. and Mrs. Le Claire supported me in my first year here,” she said. “Mrs. Le Claire encouraged me to write and installed confidence in my English skills—I remember very clearly when she read my work out loud to the class as an example of what a great creative essay should be, and I still treasure the small comments she would give me when grading my work. I also have fond memories of [Middle School English Teacher] Ms. El-Manadily, who first introduced me to the marvelous world of Literature and who kept on supporting me throughout my whole time at TASIS; [Middle School Science Teacher] Dr. Sinnathamby, who pushed me to be my best as a seventh grader in a class full of eighth-grade students and never gave me any slack; [Middle School Math and History Teacher] Mr. Alava, who handled my best friend and me and was always ready and willing to help, explain, or challenge me with extra work; [High School Science Department Chair] Mr. Ogilvie, who not only set me on my future path but also always made super bad chemistry jokes (it's all in the bonding, isn't it?); [High School Science Teacher] Ms. Crockett, who made coming to class the highlight of the day (her sexy CO2 stories still keep me up at night, and I cannot eat without reciting the digestive process); [High School English Department Chair] Dr. Chris Love, who opened my eyes and trained me to see past the surface not only of literature but also of systems and people; [former Global Service Program Director] Mr. Mulert, who has the tendency to make you want to be the best person you can be, both in terms of service and, generally, on a human level; [Director of Communications] Mr. Chevalier, who never grew discouraged when he had to read and edit my 12-page ramblings for the blog; [Science Laboratory Technician] Ms. Olymar Marco Brown, who taught me more about life in the few hours a week we had together than my 12 years of education did; [High School Science Teacher] Mr. Walker, who always accepted my attitude and sass; and [Varsity Swimming Coach] Mrs. Walker, who watched and helped me grow not only as an athlete but as a leader (I love you, Coach!).”

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