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Student Profile: Sonya Lebedeva

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Student Profile: Sonya Lebedeva

Lebedeva and friends pose for a picture. Photo courtesy of Sonya Lebedeva.

Lebedeva and friends pose for a picture. Photo courtesy of Sonya Lebedeva.

Lebedeva and friends pose for a picture. Photo courtesy of Sonya Lebedeva.

Lebedeva and friends pose for a picture. Photo courtesy of Sonya Lebedeva.

Sarah Norum, Staff Writer

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Sonya Lebedeva is a new addition to the junior grade for the next two years. Lebedeva lived in Russia for eight years, then in London for another eight and now lives with her parents in Palo Alto, while her older sisters still work in Moscow.

According to Lebedeva, the transition to Menlo has been smooth so far. “People here are wonderful. I can talk to almost everyone and feel welcome. There are lots of interesting individuals who I enjoy spending time with and they made me feel included right from the start,” Lebedeva said.

Not only have the students been welcoming, but the teachers have also. “Sure the curriculums are different, but most every teacher has done their absolute best to help me. They are all very understanding and answer all my questions,” Lebedeva said.

Lebedeva’s previous school in London. Photo courtesy of Sonya Lebedeva.

Academically, there are similarities and differences between Russia, England and the U.S. “Academic rigor is the same in science and the humanities, [but the] curriculums are different,” Lebedeva said. “Languages are also much less prominent here. For example, everyone at my last school took a minimum of two languages. For math, it is very different at Menlo. The curriculums do not match, and the overall level of math is definitely higher here.”

The main change during her transition was the focus on STEM classes at Menlo. “The biggest difference is the Whitaker Lab and the emphasis on computer science [classes], and Menlo certainly has more opportunities in those area. Those classes are practical, challenging and certainly more fun,” said Lebedeva.

So far, Lebedeva has already made many connections to new people and learned so much in this area. “I can finally push my understanding in the fields which I adore. I get to connect with people outside of Menlo who are doing research, see what they are doing and learn from them too. I love to have daily intellectually stimulating conversations with my friends,” Lebedeva said.  

Lebedeva’s motto is, “If you are not going to do something that scares you, then you might as well stay in the same place.” This guided her through her transition, and she has a love of exploring the unknown. “Going abroad means you get to talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. You get a new perspective on things, but most importantly, you get rid of that sense of self-importance which some highschool students tend to have,” Lebedeva said.

Photo courtesy of Sonya Lebedeva.

“When you have been in the same place for a while you get used to a routine and school can seem a little tedious. Going abroad you are still going to go to school, but you get to experience everything for the first time again,” Lebedeva said. “So really, this school year has been like a holiday for me. I am a tourist who couldn’t be enjoying her time at Menlo more.”

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Student Profile: Sonya Lebedeva