Determination is her middle name

Leah Kosyakovsky graduates high school at 15

 Leah Kosyakovsky will graduate early from high school at the age of 15. (Photo courtesy of Leah Kosyakovsky)

Leah Kosyakovsky will graduate early from high school at the age of 15. (Photo courtesy of Leah Kosyakovsky)

Leah Kosyakovsky graduates Saturday as a member of the Stillwater Area High School Class of 2013.

She will receive her diploma before she gets her driver’s license.

The 15-year-old Kosyakovsky is currently a full-time PSEO student enrolled at the University of Minnesota. She transferred to SAHS as a junior from the Math and Science Academy in Woodbury and was immediately placed into senior classes because of the accelerated programs she completed at the Woodbury school. She started kindergarten early and skipped second grade, according to SAHS counselor Sandra Weaver. When students Kosyakovsky’s age would be in 10th grade, she was studying with seniors.

“She’s the most independent student I have ever worked with,” Weaver said. “I’m not exactly sure what the impetus was for her to transfer, but I think a lot of it had to do with the PSEO program opportunities she’d have here.”

Since transferring, Kosyakovsky has maxed out PSEO opportunities at the U of M, making it necessary for her to graduate early.

“For one of my classes I took last semester, I had to call the person in charge every day for a month to get into the class. It’s easier getting into a general English course than getting into the hard-core science classes and it was hard work getting there,” Kosyakovsky said.

Kosyakovsky eventually got into the class through determination and persistence.

“She called me to tell me about this and said she thought she finally wore them down by calling so much. Then she went and aced the class,” Weaver said. “She’s taking science classes that are very high level. She took nothing but science and math classes last semester.”

Kosyakovsky’s post-high school plans include a Bachelors degree in biochemistry that she will earn from the U of M.

“After high school, I want to go into medicine and medicinal research and since I’m finishing so early, it’s OK that that program is going to go for so long,” Kosyakovsky said. “Why did I pick medicine? I love the life sciences. Life itself is made on a biochemical basis and is physiological and I’ve always wanted to do some sort of medicine and help those that are ill or find new ways to care for people with general illnesses.”

“She has to continue with this path because she can’t take any more high-level classes as a PSEO student,” Weaver said. “She’ll graduate with high-level classes at the U. The drawback for her unfortunately, is that she’ll have to be paying for classes, though she’s gotten some scholarships. But she’s maxed out everything she can do at the U as a PSEO student.”

Despite graduating high school early, Kosyakovsky said she doesn’t feel she’s missing much because she’s always been more concerned about challenging herself throughout her life.

“I challenge myself because I like life, and I feel like we should make the most of our time that we have. And life for myself involves challenging me.” Kosyakovsky said.

Although skipping grades was intimidating at first for Kosyakovsky, she’s gotten used to it.

“It was a lot harder when I was nine and was with the kids that were much older than me. As I get older it gets much easier, I’ve learned how to make friends with older people and I look at the people that I would be working with right now and I’m glad that I am where I am,” she said.

“She had letters of recommendation written by teachers from here at the high school so she could get into the PSEO program and they all talked about how even though she was so young, she had gained and garnered the respect of her fellow students and teachers,” Weaver said. “They spoke very highly of how thoughtful, insightful and exceptional she was as a student at her age. She’s just an amazingly independent kid and to be how she is at her age is just wonderful.”

Kosyakovsky’s advice for students following her same path:

“The biggest thing is working hard and knowing your goals. Knowing your goals helps in different situations. Sometimes it’s really hard to move up. You’re scared of people who are older, or the work you may be given. But you have to know that it’s hard work, not being super smart that will get you where you want to go and you have to motivate yourself a lot of the time.”

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]