Senior Project: Elizaveta Kotova’s Inspiring Stories in Self

Elizaveta (1) For her Senior Project, Elizaveta Kotova is working on a book titled Self, featuring nonfiction stories about 30 people from all walks of life. Each person’s article and photo will fall into one of three categories—“Mind,” “Soul,” or “Ego.” “The philosophy is to have a balance of these three things in order to be in harmony with yourself,” she said. “The stories will be a great mix of perspectives that will hopefully make a connection with the reader on a personal level.”

Some of the 30 interview subjects include Ross students, teachers, and parents. The remaining are members of the extended community, including a 10-year-old and the Venerable Tenzin Yignyen, an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk. “I’ve been inspired by the strength and power of these individuals,” said Elizaveta, “and I hope their stories will communicate to others that they are not alone, and they, too, have an important story to share.”

The photos illustrating the book will also play a role in capturing the essence of the personal stories, and Elizaveta hopes the arrangement will prove meaningful to others. “Each person I’ve spoken with has provided an important piece of the puzzle,” she explained.

In one story, the reader will meet a student who has been open about his sexuality for many years. Elizaveta was impressed by his strength of character. “If you’re a goldfish, stay a goldfish, even when you are swimming with the sharks,” she quipped.

Another story will result from an interview with a professional artist and teacher. Elizaveta enthused, “We’re surrounded by people who have fascinating stories to tell.” Others are about a Ross parent who adopted several elephants in Africa to ensure their care and protection and a local veterinarian who is dedicated to caring for small animals.

The experience has had a deep impact on Elizaveta: “This started as a project about other people, but it has also taught me important things about myself and achieving harmony and balance.” She now plans to include her self-portrait in the collection.

Elizaveta will initially print 50 copies of Self, possibly to sell, and next year plans to study international affairs and marketing at one of the top colleges in the United States.