Anna Tossa: Not just a twin

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Anna Tossa: Not just a twin

Katherine Sun, Copy Editor

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The dough slowly blankets the countertop as her mother guides her in rolling it. Warm with the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon, the kitchen bursts with the flavors of her culture. She’s making Pierogi, her favorite Russian dish, with her mother, and the moment encapsulates the core of her identity. 

Senior Anna Tossa carries a uniquely complex background. Although some immediately recognize Tossa for being a twin, she’s also an immigrant, leader, varsity athlete, and an active member in her community. Above all, she’s an ambitious young woman with focused aspirations. 

After moving from Russia to the United States at 2 years old, Tossa straddled the boundaries of multiple cultures. People often make incorrect assumptions about her race, some believing that she’s African American, and some that she’s fully black. “They don’t know that I’m Russian. They don’t know that I’m actually biracial, and I consider them [my races] equal,” Tossa said.

Because of these assumptions, she feels that her peers and teachers often predetermine her academic abilities. “It’s weird to feel like you have all this pressure to prove that just because some statistics say that doesn’t mean all of us are like that,” she said. Having worked hard to maintain academic success despite rigorous classes and pressure, Tossa feels strongly that first impressions in the classroom shouldn’t define subsequent interactions. “Every kid should feel like they’re helped to achieve success,” she said. 

To help foster an on-going conversation of such issues, Tossa leads Dare 2 Be Real. The club aims to change culture. It empowers students to become leaders of change by teaching them “how to guide and direct conversations about topics that are uncomfortable to talk about.” Tossa and her fellow student leaders want to encourage their community to view disagreements as learning moments, rather than dividing moments. 

The club’s advisor, Kelsey Snyder, believes Tossa “adds enormous insight and wisdom to our conversations about race at our school.” Tossa’s initiative in leading staff tours that show our school through the lens of minorities and a privilege walk exemplify just a few of her contributions.

During the spring season, Tossa dedicates much of her time to track and field. She approaches training and competing with the mentality that “what you get out of it, is what you put in to it.” She believes in “running the extra lap,” holding herself to a standard that’s not only challenging, but also creates growth. “There’s always more you can do to attain the goal you have,” Tossa said.

Head girls’ track coach, Jummy Barlass, praises Tossa for her “tremendous work ethic, her incredible talent, and her uplifting spirit.” Tossa overcomes adversity to excel on the track and in school, all the while “[giving] thanks in every circumstance.” 

“She treats people with kindness and respect, and recognizes the value in other people. She is also a great teammate, leader, friend, and carries herself with class. I truly believe she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to,” Barlass said.

The skills that Tossa’s learned from Dare 2 Be Real and track translate into all other areas of her life. Tossa connects with people through her leadership in volunteering at Fairview Southdale Hospital and in her church youth group. She applies her resolve to her academics and part-time job. Every activity reflects the person she is and the values she stands for. 

Tossa wants to make an impact amongst people. Whether that means working for Doctors without Borders or being an immigration lawyer, Tossa will contribute the diverse challenges and experiences of her youth to the world.

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