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.
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.