By Daria Kolmogorova
2022 Anne Mackay Scholarship winner Daria Kolmogorova of Shelter Island High School.
I was born in Moscow, Russia and moved to the United States when I was six years old. My mother lives in Russia with the rest of my family while I live with my dad in the United States. Both of my parents are hearing impaired, and I’ve been interpreting and translating for both parents since I can remember. I have learned to use sign language in two languages, American Sign Language and Russian Sign Language. My parents have relied on my help to facilitate everyday conversations and also more formal conversations such as speaking to immigration officials when traveling. These special circumstances have been character building and have allowed me to view life through a different lens. I am confident I can overcome obstacles and conflicts that my peers may find more challenging. My family and I have also struggled financially, but there was always someone in the school community that worked with me and helped me out My dedication to my own success and my core values push me to solve, complete challenging tasks, and push my limits academically. I have never taken the easy way out and have enrolled in AP and Honors courses instead of Jess challenging offerings, have been in Honor Roll and High Honor Roll my entire high school career, a member of the National Honor Society and I have always showed up to as many community events as I could.
Even when I thought no one noticed my efforts in school, there was always someone that noticed and offered help when I needed it. Being able to pursue and achieve the goals I have set for myself without much assistance bas made me the driven person that I am today. I set high expectations for myself and put in my best effort to achieve them. During the summer of 2020, my friends and I were in the front of the Black Lives Matter Movement march in our town, protesting the discrimination, racism, and inequality experienced by black people. Our town came together to peacefully protest the incidents of police brutality and racially motivated acts of violence against black people. It allowed me to realize and internalize how privileged I am because of my skin color. I realized how brutality towards people of color is normalized. Mothers have to worry about their children and spouses not returning home from running simple errands, children have to worry about their parents and friends. I stand for what is right, just, and equal for every person of any color, culture, or religion. I am also a founding member of the Unity Club at my school, which is our district’s first LGBTQ+ advocacy club. There is so much negativity and hostility towards people who aren’t cis-gender and white and l hope to make a change, to make everyone feel special and seen. Especially in a predominantly white and relatively wealthy community, some people may feel like they deserve less than others. The Unity Club hasn’t only advocated for LGBTQ+ issues, we also try to advocate for the international students, and students that are confined to certain people, and activities due 10 their language barriers. In hopes of making them feel more included and part of our small school community. Being able to do something and help people who need the assistance allows me personally to connect to my core values, to practice my gratitude towards life and all the things the world has to offer us as individuals.
I have committed to University at Albany and am pursuing the emergency preparedness, homeland security and cyber security major, with a minor in Russian. The idea of helping people in times of crises and need is something I aspire to do with my life. Being exposed to such an inclusive school environment has inspired me to pursue a helping work field, not Just help within my community. Making a difference on numerous people and families, makes an impression on their character and soul. I hope to not only help them out in a physical sense but reach them on a deeper level, inspire them, and help them blossom. Being able to do something and help people who need the assistance allows me personally to connect to my core values, to give back to communities and to practice my gratitude towards life and all the things the world has to offer us as individuals. My work field would allow me to assist families and the American population as a whole, putting other people and their safety first.