Alla Staroseltseva: Russian native thriving in new surroundings

Alla Staroseltseva ‘22 is a hard worker and a real go-getter, she’s been told, to which she smiles and flexes her biceps.

“Russian people!” she playfully boasts in her native accent.

The past few months have seen Staroseltseva move to Kingston, Pennsylvania, where she’s been inducted into Wyoming Seminary’s chapter of the Cum Laude Society and has served as a dedicated member of the school’s Science Research Group and STEM/STEAM concentration.

Oh, and she still has had time to maintain a social life in her new surroundings while even recording a viral TikTok video or two.

“Alla is so full of life and curious about everything,” said Dr. Andrea Nerozzi, a science teacher and the founder of Sem’s Science Research Group. “She is fully involved in her interests, not just intellectually but emotionally, as well. She is among the most creative students that I have worked with.”

Alla Staroseltseva '22 poses next to a drawing she created for the Science Research Group's 25th anniversary exhibit at the Kirby Center for Creative Arts.

Staroseltseva was introduced to Wyoming Seminary years ago at an international education fair in Moscow, Russia. There, she met Regina Allen, Sem’s Director of International Admission.

“It was just an instant thing,” Staroseltseva recalled. “After a second of talking, I knew I was into this.”

Staroseltseva enrolled at Wyoming Seminary prior to her junior year, the 2020-21 term.

However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Staroseltseva attended Sem virtually from her home in Kazan, Russia.

“It was fun …,” she said, “kind of fun.”

Wyoming Seminary instructors cautioned Staroseltseva about the difficulty of classes at Sem, but Staroseltseva was determined to take three Advanced Placement courses anyway.

“I dedicated a lot of time my junior year to academics because, well, I didn’t talk to a lot of people and just sat at home,” she said. “There was plenty of time to do my work.”

Staroseltseva rose to the top 10% of her class as a junior, then arrived in the U.S. to continue her studies as a senior.

Attending in-person classes has greatly benefited Staroseltseva in Science Research Group, for example, where one project includes testing substances on nematodes — microscopic, worm-like organisms the size of a speck of dust — to see how their nervous systems react.

“We always drink Starbucks coffee, but how does it affect learning?” Staroseltseva asked. “We can actually test that on nematodes. We feed them solution and see how they move and record how many times they move in a certain amount of time.”

Alla Staroseltseva poses for a picture at the Wyoming Seminary Upper School.

Staroseltseva hopes to become a doctor or a neurologist, following in the footsteps of her mother, who is a doctor. Staroseltseva’s father is a businessman and artist who taught Staroseltseva how to draw.

Staroseltseva’s experience at Sem has furthered her interest in the fields of medicine and science, saying Sem’s faculty works especially well with students who are passionate about what they study.

It’s clear Staroseltseva fits the bill as someone who is enthusiastic about learning.

“Nothing comes internally,” she said. “You have ambitions, but if you don’t see the right people or you’re not in the right environment, I don’t think you’re going to live up to your potential.”

— Article and photos by Matt Bufano (Published Dec. 1, 2021)