Just 16 years old, Sofiia Semenova displays the savvy and maturity of someone twice her age. She works two part-time jobs in Roanoke – lead instructor at The Little Gym and customer service at Hey Sugar Candy. She takes career preparation and advanced placement classes and is a member of the Guitar Club at Byron Nelson High School from where the junior expects to graduate a year early. “I think she would be an inspiration to many other young girls out there what they can achieve if they really want to,” said Buket Campbell, co-owner of The Little Gym. “Her attention to details and asking questions about almost everything is impressive. She gets thing done. If she weren’t a teenager, I’d leave her the keys and she’d run this business just fine.” Campbell is complimenting someone who didn’t speak English when she and her mom Krystryna arrived in the United States from Ukraine in 2014, one year after her father Demytro – a software engineer for Disney – came.
She taught herself watching American shows on Netflix and listening to her schoolmates in New Jersey where she lived until moving to Texas last year. Smart like her father – who earned a master’s degree at age 20 – Semenova takes multiple
honors classes and already has started college test preparation. She plans to attend Tarrant Community College, then the University of North Texas to earn a degree in economics aiming at becoming a financial advisor. She’s been working since her days as a tutor in New Jersey. “It’s because I always wanted my own money,” she said. “I’ve never liked taking an allowance or my parents’ money. It always felt weird.” Since coming to Texas, she’s worked two jobs at once. At first, she was a lifeguard at Hawaiian Falls at age 15. Then she picked up a job at Foster’s. Later she joined Hey Sugar Candy and Wise Guys Pizza and eventually The Little Gym.
Semenova started at The Little Gym when it first opened in July and was quickly made lead instructor overseeing all classes of children ages 4 and up. She also manages social media including writing advertising content. “Dealing with children is a lot more intense and dangerous,” she said. “But once I got the training and met the staff members who were really, really nice, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. Plus, I saw more growth opportunities. There’s not much room for growth elsewhere at age 16. I could see myself working here through college.” As someone who hates homework, she makes sure she completes her assignments during theschool day. “One thing I think I’ve become good at is time management,” she said. “It’s always something I’m passionate about.”