Moving from Russia in 1995, Karina Konshin’s parents came to the U.S., Chicago specifically, to give their future family a better life free of discrimination, and in March 2002, Konshin was born.
Konshin’s parents followed her great-grandmother to Chicago to escape the discrimination they faced in Russia due to their family’s Jewish ethnicity. The United States also provided a way for the family to get out of the Russian economic system.
“My parents wanted to be able to get out of that little economic hole because in Russia nobody owned anything … only the [very rich] had things like [cars and air conditioning],” Konshin explained.
Even though Konshin did not move to the U.S. from Russia, she can speak Russian fluently, although she does struggle to read and write Russian. Not being able to read or write the language makes it harder to keep in touch with much of her family, whom she has met only once in 2013; they still live in Russia.
“If there was one thing I could get rid of … it would be the language barrier. It’s so rough because there are people you can’t be really close with because you don’t understand them [and] that just sucks,” Konshin discussed.
Konshin has one sibling: an older brother who she has a very close relationship to. Thomas Konshin, who is almost six years older than Konshin, has acted like a third parent to her, she said. Thomas now lives in Chicago and goes to college there; he commutes back home for the weekends to work.
Her brother passed on his, what Konshin calls, “college traits,” meaning that she got his outgoing talkative traits and skipped the the usual awkward high-school phase that most people go through.
“[Thomas] pushed me out of my comfort zone and because of that, I’m gonna make [life] a good time so I’m gonna talk to everyone and my sense of humor also kinda comes from him,” expressed Konshin.
Konshin is very grateful for her brother guiding her through high school to this point and although they don’t talk as much anymore, when they do, she said it turns into a four-hour conversation.
As a child, she attended Oak Grove School for elementary and middle school. She gave a lot of credit to the school for providing her many opportunities that expanded her education, such as outdoor field trips like Snowflake.
Oak Grove School also influenced many of her core values today, including being respectful and nice to everyone.
“At Oak Grove, they threw [being respectful and kind speeches] at you at least five times a year. [From that experience] I thought, ‘You know what, I think I should be respectful,’” said Konshin with a laugh.
As for high school, Konshin is a junior involved in badminton, the debate team and choir. Her favorite course that she has taken so far has been Honors Geography with Mr. Bill Mix her freshman year. Konshin recommended that everyone should take a geography class at some point during their high school career.
During her free time, Konshin is a huge fan of going to the school dances and football games on Friday nights to hang out with her friends. Hill and junior Cassie Palmo agree that just hanging out and watching some movies is how their group tends to enjoy spending time together.
Traveling has always been a huge and important aspect of Konshin’s life due to her family’s past in Russia and not being able to leave the country.
“In communist Russia, it is illegal for you to leave the area … so what my parents decided together was that they cannot let their kids be in the same place, so we travel a lot and put a lot of our funds towards travel,” said Konshin.
This past summer, she took a two-week trip to Spain with the LHS Spanish program to explore northern Spain with her friends.
“My favorite part about the Spain trip was definitely being able to just explore some of the cities alone with just me and my friends,” explained Konshin.
Looking towards the future, Konshin wants to go into a social studies field and possibly take a political route, however she noted that she could see herself teaching.
“[I] could always go [into] being a teacher because I feel like a have a strong suit in teaching or just helping other people in general,” she explained.
One quote that she lives by, Konshin lives every moment like it’s her last because:“I have to be happy with what I’m doing because otherwise I might not say the right thing to someone and I might lose [family and friends].”