Her parents immigrated to America from Ethiopia following a military takeover of the country.
Her mother, who arrived in 1990, worked on improving her English skills while simultaneously taking college classes. Both parents earned college degrees. Her dad now owns an insurance agency. Her mom is an accountant.
"My parents are very hard workers," Kassala said.
Many would say the same thing about her. Kassala, 17, has a 4.0 GPA for her senior year and a cumulative GPA of 3.98. Her list of classes includes honors classes, Advanced Placement classes and classes taken for college credit.
Her favorite class this year was AP calculus because "it was the most challenging."
All this helped earn Kassala a Diversity Scholar award from the University of Washington Bothell, the only such award given out by UW Bothell this year. The scholarship will pay up to $40,000 over four years as long as she maintains a GPA of 2.0 or better.
Kassala's community volunteer work includes tutoring at the Boys & Girls Club on Casino Road and assisting with local Relay for Life and Special Olympics events.
Kassala said she hasn't picked a college major but is interested in pursuing studies in engineering, business or finance.
Kassala didn't hesitate when asked who was the biggest influence on her life. "My parents," she said. "They always made sure that school was my first priority and always worked hard to make sure I was always doing well in school.
"They really instilled those values in me. I'm thankful for that."
Class of 2013
• Ruby Kassala: Ace student thrives on challenges
• Brendon Krall: Driven to succeed -- and to help others
• Erika Middleton-Sharpe: Headed for New York with an upright bass
• AnhViet Nguyen: Before Stanford, he'll learn to drive
• Debbie Peterson: She's got her eye on medical school
• Victoria Sonnenburg: Accident was 'blessing' to Kamiak senior
• Nicota Stevenson: His heritage helped him chart his future
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