From a 9-year-old who didn’t speak a word of English to an accomplished student who finished four years of high school in three years, Yelizaveta Skoromnaya has traveled far.
“She’s done it all independently,” said Five Mile Prairie School teacher Craig Taylor. “She’s very bright.”
In 2007, her family fled Russia to escape religious persecution.
“My mom tells stories of being spit on because she was Baptist and not a communist,” Skoromnaya said.
As the youngest of five girls, she initially struggled at Bemiss Elementary.
“It was awkward,” she said. “I didn’t know any English, so I just pretended to be able to read the books.”
Rescue arrived in the form of a little boy named Daniel who patiently helped her make sense of this new world featuring mysterious things like spelling bees.
“He was my angel,” Skoromnaya said. “He stayed with me all the way through sixth grade.”
In middle school she attended a private Christian academy, but when the cost proved prohibitive, she transferred to Five Mile Prairie. It’s been a great fit for this motivated student.
“It (the school) helped me excel and opened lots of opportunities.”
One of those opportunities is enrollment in the Running Start program. Skoromnaya attends Spokane Community College.
“I’m going to go one more year there and then transfer to the WSU Veterinary School,” she said.
Pets are her passion.
In Russia, she and her family lived in a big house and had every kind of animal you imagine, she said.
One day their cat had a kitten and for some reason rejected it.
Her father was going to drown the forlorn kitten, but Skoromnaya intervened.
“I fed it. I nurtured it. I saved it,” she said. “It was my glorious moment!”
It also sparked an abiding desire to care for animals.
“I want to save all the animals I can,” Skoromnaya said.
Her interest in animals large and small led to her involvement with the Spokane Interstate Fair. She was recently named an Interstate Fair ambassador after having served on the Junior Fair Advisory Board.
In addition, she has volunteered at the Spokane Humane Society for several years. The experience solidified her love of veterinary medicine. She’s had the opportunity to prep animals for surgery, assisted during surgery and cared for dogs and cats following procedures.
“Animals are so loving and caring,” she said. “If you love them, they love you back. They don’t backstab you, and they make you feel so good inside.”
It comes as no surprise that science and biology are her favorite subjects. She’s looking forward to working with big cats when she volunteers at Cat Tales this summer.
Taylor has been thrilled to watch this student shine.
“She doesn’t want to talk about her problems. She always focuses on the positive,” he said. “She’s got a bright future ahead.”
It’s a future Skoromnaya is profoundly grateful for.
“America provides so many things that would not have been possible for me in Russia,” she said. “I am really thankful for everything.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day's top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter