Student Profile:
Liya Lomsadze, 17
Riverwood International Charter School, Senior

Liya Lomsadze is a study in contrasts. She’s a violinist who prefers to sing. She competed for her high school in the swimming pool and the Mock Trial courtroom. She cites science and literature as her favorite subjects in school — but picked her French teacher, Ann Willeford, as her STAR teacher after Liya was named Riverwood’s 2009 STAR student by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

The STAR program recognizes outstanding academics combined with extracurriculars and community involvement.

“I was very honored to represent my school like that,” Liya said. “It was exciting.”

The STAR honor came after Liya spent six weeks studying chemistry last summer at Valdosta State University as part of the Governor’s Honors Program.

“It was the most amazing six weeks of my life,” she said, as 700 teens with diverse interests and backgrounds spent most of the time confined within a square mile and “were able to all come together, share their talents and learn together.”

The child of Regina Zlotchenko and Aleksandr Lomsadze of Sandy Springs, Liya moved to Tennessee from Moscow when she was 5. The family, which includes brother Gia, 15, and sister Anya, 9, came to the Atlanta area about 10 years ago.

She’s fascinated by science, especially biology. “It’s fun to explain how the world works, how our bodies work.”

She credits great teachers with sparking her interest in literature, but her reading preferences run parallel to her scientific interests, such as the sci-fi of Ray Bradbury and the fantasy works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Outside academics, Liya started playing the violin in third grade and expects to keep playing. But she said she has more fun with the Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde. “I just have a better experience with it,” Liya said of singing, probably because of the friends with whom she grew up performing.

Friendship also drew her to Mock Trial: A friend was on the team, which needed more members. She wound up doing the courtroom program for three years. “I never thought I’d become interested in the law, and I don’t think I will,” she said. “But it was a very interesting look at the judicial system.”

She began swim team in fourth grade. “It was kind of an anti-drowning measure by my parents that turned into my primary sport.”

What’s Next:

Liya will enter Yale University in the fall and likely will pursue a degree in biology. After that, she could put her biology knowledge to use in research or move on to medical school. “There are many possibilities.”