Puyallup students earn spots on state academic team

Hannah Baldwin
Reporter

Students Sarah Parkhurst and Mikhail Kurkov will represent Pierce College Puyallup as part of the All-Washington Academic Team.

The All-Washington Academic Team program was built to show the excellence and hard workmanship of Washington State students. Over time, it’s turned into a display of the academic achievements of  community and technical college students, according to the South Puget Sound Community College website.

“The students who make up the All-Washington Team reflect the diversity of the state, maintain high standards of excellence, and contribute positively to the community,” the website reads.  “Their stories are often inspiring, sometimes surprising, and always reflective of the larger story of the state’s community and technical college students.”

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Sarah Parkhurst

Parkhurst echoes the desired diversity and says the opportunity will be very beneficial for her.

“It means the world to me,” Parkhurst said in an email. “My parents are unable to help me financially, and unfortunately, I don’t have the means to pay for tuition on my own. Finances have always been an obstacle for me and a determining factor on whether or not I am able to attend a university. Being chosen is a huge blessing. It’s opening doors for me that I couldn’t open myself.”

Parkhurst is a chemistry major who works hard to be a good student and is keeping a high academic transcript, but there’s more to her than that.

Outside of school, Parkhurst works as a veterinary technician at an animal hospital. She also loves outdoor activities, especially hiking.

“I conquered many mountains last summer and  many more await me this coming summer,” she said. “I also enjoy riding my horse, Elle, and playing with my two dogs, Rocky and Apollo. I like to play video games and usually will defeat any challengers who dare face me.”

Parkhurst is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, wanting to transfer either to Pacific Lutheran University or the University of Washington Seattle campus, and hopes to eventually gain a doctorate. There are several careers Parkhurst could enter with that degree, but she already has one in mind.

“Right now, the plan is to get a job as a research scientist in a laboratory doing research involving environmental health of the planet,” Parkhurst said.

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Mikhail Kurkov

Kurkov expressed a similar gratitude and excitement at having been chosen.

“I was probably more shocked than anyone to find out that I had been nominated to be one of the two people to represent the Puyallup Campus,” Kurkov said in an email. “It seems as though there are just so many other outstanding students that are more deserving, but I am grateful for this opportunity nonetheless.”

The married engineering major, like Parkhurst, says that he believes being a part of the All-Washington Academic Team will help pave a way for him.

“Being nominated for the Academic Team has opened the door to many opportunities, one of which is possibly receiving a scholarship to the university I attend,” Kurkov said. “This of course will help in achieving my academic goals seeing as how the financial portion of attending college is often the most daunting.”

Attending three classes a day, working about 25 hours a week as a supplemental instructor and finishing all of his homework, Kurkov said there’s little he does outside of academics. Still, there is more to him.

“Since my wife is also in school, I spend a good portion of my free time cooking and cleaning around the house, feeding and caring for our chickens, ducks and two Border Collies,” Kurkov said. “But, of course, attending Slavic Christian Center every Sunday morning is a must. For if not for the renewing strength God so graciously gives, I know I couldn’t have gotten this far.”

For his career plans, Kurkov is struggling between mechanical and civil engineering as a major.

“I grew up in a family that was constantly remodeling, and so structure is very interesting to me,” Kurkov said. “But on the other hand, I love the diversity of work that accompanies the job of a mechanical engineer. Lucky for me, I still have some time to decide between the two before I enroll at a university.”

Kurkov, however, has decided where to finish his current pursuits, regardless of major or college.

“If it is in the will of my Lord, I plan to complete my AA and AS degrees this coming spring, and then transfer to a four year university where I will hopefully earn my Bachelor’s degree in Engineering,” Kurkov said. “My wife is so very close to completing her degree, this coming spring, and we are absolutely thrilled for that as well.”

Along with this, Kurkov also shows diversity in that he is a first generation college student. Despite the potential blockage this could create, Kurkov doesn’t seem to let it hold him back.

“Since I am a first generation college student, I feel like I am inspired to do well in school and prove to my family that attaining a degree in higher education is possible,” Kurkov said.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Puyallup students earn spots on state academic team

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