L.V. Salutatorian Zosia Lemaitre to attend Johns Hopkins


Zosia Lemaitre, 17, a senior at Locust Valley High School, was named the salutatorian for the Class of 2021. The Locust Valley resident holds a 109.09 weighted GPA and a perfect score of 36 on the ACT. She will attend Johns Hopkins University this fall, majoring in molecular and cellular biology on the pre-medical track.

According to Ania Lemaitre, Zosia’s mother, her daughter has always been a self-starter with a strong idea of what she wants to do in life.

“She was always very motivated,” Ania said, noting that in fifth grade, Zosia skipped two grade levels in math and science and moved directly into learning the seventh grade curricula, never falling behind on assignments or needing help with homework. “She worked hard, but at the same time, it wasn’t that she had to spend that many hours to learn, but instead of slacking off she would always do the homework, she would always do the assignment, she would always read the book. She was always a very responsible person.”

This sense of responsibility is evident in Zosia’s participation in a wide range of extracurriculars and clubs at school, all while holding many leadership positions in these involvements. She is the co-president of the Ethics Bowl Club, the president and founder of the Bio Olympiads Club, president of the student body, co-president of the French National Honor Society, and tutoring coordinator for the National Honor Society.

Zosia is also a two-sport athlete. She is co-captain of the varsity tennis team and a member of the varsity track team.

Her skillful leadership and determination have contributed to the success of these organizations, as her Ethics Bowl team made it to the quarterfinals and her science bowl team advanced all the way to the first round of eliminations in each respective competition. She led the varsity tennis team to an undefeated season, in which they also secured a division championship win.

Despite her individual efforts and dedication to her involvements, Zosia is very much a team-player. She said that she is extremely proud of everyone on those teams and the hard work that they all did together to contribute to their successes.

According to Ania, this sense of altruism has always been instilled in Zosia. “She’s very caring,” said Ania. “She has a sister, and she always takes care of her. She’s always involved with helping other people. She does a lot of tutoring, and she also works in a synagogue helping out for the past few years.”

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, Zosia also volunteered at a local food drive, which she said made her feel more connected with her community.

“She tried to do as much as she can even though we weren’t allowed to really do anything,” said Ania, referring to Zosia’s volunteerism at the food drive.

However, her community service isn’t the only way in which Zosia helps improve the lives of those around her. According to Louis DeRose, Zosia’s IB Biology teacher and science research mentor, her compassionate nature and eagerness to learn push both her classmates and her teachers to be better people.

“[Being compassionate] is something that you can’t teach,” DeRose said. “I can teach her about DNA. I can teach her about chemistry and all this different stuff, but I can’t teach her how to be compassionate. She contributes a big difference to other people’s lives. I think that’s really important because her classmates would tell you that.”

And Zosia inspires others, he said. “Because she goes 110 percent, she also makes you go 110 percent,” DeRose said. “If you’re not someone who’s used to that, that can be intimidating, but if you buy into it, you end up becoming better because you’re associating with her.”

When asked about her favorite memories and experiences from high school, Zosia noted that her time in the LVHS science research program has been very special to her, as she was able to conduct independent research and then go on trips with her peers to present the research at various science fairs and competitions.

“It really cemented my passion for STEM,” she said, “and helped me connect to lots of different people in our community in a new way.”
Over the past two years, with some interruptions caused by the pandemic, Zosia conducted independent research under the mentorship of DeRose studying the effects of an Alzheimer’s drug on a model organism, C. elegans, to model the effects of the drug on individuals who are misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s, as it is one of the most misdiagnosed disorders due to its similarity to other neurodegenerative disorders.

Zosia said that she is very thankful to DeRose for his constant guidance in not only becoming a better student, but a better person.
In terms of her high school experience, Zosia also noted that she has also had a wonderful experience with Kimberly Ferina, the district math coordinator. Ferina constantly made Zosia feel welcome in the math community, she said, and encouraged her to keep pursuing her love for mathematics, despite how difficult it can be at times.

Despite the pandemic changing learning in ways never seen before, Zosia said that it impacted her high school experience in three distinct ways. It caused her to grow up and mature faster, while also influencing her world view. The pandemic allowed her to foster a deeper connection with her local and school community through volunteerism. Finally, she said that the pandemic made it easier for her to let go of high school and look forward to a new start at Johns Hopkins this fall.