Lessons from family prepare Yurok teen for future

As an only child raised in a multigenerational household, Sophia Piatti grew up with her parents and grandparents.

It left her with a strong sense of independence and self expression. Sophia cultivated the determination to continue her education and graduated from CAM Academy in Battle Ground with an associate degree from Clark College in June.

The 18-year-old Yurok Tribe member says her parents believed in her, so she believed in herself. From a young age, Sophia understood the value an education holds. In fall 2022, she will pursue a dual major in English and neuroscience at the University of Oregon.

“People can take things from you, but nobody can take your education,” Sophia said.

In high school, she stuffed her schedule with extracurriculars; she served as president of numerous clubs and played varsity volleyball. She also completed the Running Start program at Clark, which for nearly 30 years has provided high school students with a way to earn college credit and their high school diploma concurrently.

Sophia takes pride in knowing how to balance such a busy schedule, and she credits her grandfather, who was a military general, for this skill.

He had a motto he taught to her mother, Jennifer, who taught it to Sophia: “Measure twice, cut once.” To Sophia it means to make sure you’re ready and prepared before doing anything. Sophia adopted this quality by her associate degree while graduating high school. She plans to receive her dual bachelor’s degree in 2 ½ years. After she graduates from college, she aspires to become a professor or study law.

“For me, being a professor gives me the ability to continue learning and it keeps me engaged,” Sophia said. “I want to study law, because it keeps me sharp and I feel like I would enjoy the profession.”

Sophia’s mother instilled the importance of learning, and they share a special bond.

“Me and my mom are close,” Sophia said. “Like, ‘Gilmore Girls’ close.”

Sophia’s mother also taught her daughter professionalism. As a young woman, Sophia’s mother attended an etiquette class in downtown Vancouver, and believes it’s necessary to look professional, from how she acts to how she dresses.

While other students were wearing trendy clothing, Sophia shopped at Macy’s.

“When I was 13, I was in business casual,” said Sophia. “I had shoulder pads. It was so bad.”

Looking back, she laughs about it, but appreciates the efforts her mom made to prepare her for the world.

The values ​​and experiences of her family shaped Sophia and the path she is on today. She recognizes this and takes it upon herself to honor her family.

“If I even get an ounce of their kindness and humility, I will be happy as a person,” Sophia said.

— Ava Rapport, Forest Grove High School

This story was produced by student annual reporters as a part of the High School Journalism Institute, an collaboration among The Oregonian/Oregonlive, Oregon State University and other Oregon media organizations. For more information or to support the program, go to oregonlive.com/hsji.

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