Senior Spotlight: Lina Cousineau Aguero | Summit Atlas, West Seattle

Jun 20, 2024 | Student Spotlights

Lina Cousineau Aguero is one of the original students of Summit Public Schools Atlas, entering middle school when Summit Atlas opened in 2017. Today, as one of its Class of 2024 graduates, she is both a founding student and foundational to how the school grew and evolved to meet the needs of the students it serves.

Lina Cousineau Aguero

Lina is deeply respectful of learning – not only the subjects and projects that she enjoyed and will pursue in her future but of the learning styles of others, and the environment each individual deserves to be successful. This perspective will serve her in the months and years ahead – and, as an incoming freshman at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Whitman College describes its graduates as, “…scholars, but also explorers, advocates and scientists. They climb mountains, travel to far-off corners and give voice to others. They care about community and aim to become citizens of the world.” Her education may have roots at Summit Atlas, but Lina has a keen sense for what she needs for growth, success, and all who will benefit in learning and collaborating at her side.

Some people enter college uncertain about what they will pursue in their studies, but Lina has a natural aptitude for math and an interest in puzzles and problem-solving. She progressed steadily through her math classes in school, testing into opportunities where she found the coursework enjoyable and observed that, “…math was a fun avenue to do what I like, it’s all about explaining the functions of our world and how it works, literally how and why it works.”

Given that Lina is part of a cohort who learned despite a global pandemic, it would be understandable if she favored one subject over others in order to focus. Yet, she reported that with the support of passionate teachers, she had a great time in all her subjects. Attending school online was “definitely weird,” but her teachers were determined to be connected and stay involved, even when it was hard. The effort made a difference when after returning to school in person, those connections boosted student confidence to work together to explore new interests.

“In our senior year, they tried to give us a level of autonomy in our learning to explore interests and really stand on our own for our projects.”

Lina and a friend collaborated on a project for English class, intersecting with humanities, and restructured to focus on different eras of history. In their partnership Lina chose the Renaissance to study, and her friend painted art in a Renaissance style while Lina wrote the lore accompanying the artist – combining history and art theory and creative writing. When they studied the industrial era, they read poetry from India and China and literature from that time – Frankenstein and Little Women – engaging in discussion to compare and contrast the experiences of women during that period.

Lina is keenly aware of and thoughtful about the people and the community at Summit Atlas. With her graduation ceremony only a few short days in her rearview mirror, she didn’t only have clear memories about how packed the graduation ceremony was (and how so many people warmed up the room!) but that the personal remarks and observations celebrated every single graduate. When Lina described why she chose Whitman, in addition to the different programs attached to her interests, she did so believing she could be there comfortably. She was looking for a small school experience. At Summit Atlas the community is close and access to support student needs is important – from administrators to teachers.

“I am very grateful for my teachers and mentors at Summit Atlas and grateful to have had them for my education.” The ability to have discussions, engage, and connect with peers is a major benefit to a small community. When asked if there is anything she is curious about when she looks ahead, she maintained a level perspective.

“…I try to figure things out one thing at a time. Right now I’m wondering about entering a new educational environment – how I will manage it, what it will look like, how will I grow, what do I need to learn…how will my interests and standards be met by the environments I’m in. I’m going to college and I’m not interested in defining my experience by the institution I attend. I’m interested in an education that continues to foster my critical thinking skills, and a place where I can seek and build community.”

As a graduate looking back, Lina’s advice for future graduates was clear.

“I think it’s important for as much as you focus on your education, your educational experience should be best for you. Speak up if it doesn’t work. Your education is for you. You deserve to learn the way you want to learn. Be outspoken. Make your needs known. Because you deserve to have them met. Find the place where you think you can succeed and can advocate for yourself and your education. ‘I can maybe do good and maybe learn how to do better.’”