Their Choice is Liggett: Liggett drives academic success for Macomb County siblings

Senior Sabrina Malkoun and her brother Giorgio, who is a freshman, had choices for their high school education. Their older brother Antonio, currently a senior at the University of Michigan, set the standard for a University Liggett Upper School education in the Malkoun family, and even through Sabrina and Giorgio each considered following the public school track in their Macomb County hometown of Shelby Township, the siblings, who both received the prestigious Liggett Merit Scholarship, made the conscious choice to attend Liggett instead.

The highly selective Liggett Merit Scholarship attracts students of exceptional academic strength and promise, with a diversity of extracurricular interests, and those who will take part in – and contribute to – the life of the school. Liggett Merit Scholars are active citizens; they set the bar high, take pride in their work, and thrive in Liggett’s challenging and innovative curriculum.

Individually, their decisions separated them from their middle school friends, and were made at an age when social life and academics can be a careful balance. But their choice to attend Liggett was absolutely worth it, they say.

They’ve even learned to appreciate the long daily drive — 45 minutes in off-peak traffic, each way. “Now that I drive my brother and me, we leave at 6:45 in the morning, and since we have extra curriculars until 5:30 p.m., we stay at school and study until about 7 p.m., and we avoid traffic,” Sabrina says.

She relishes the quiet library for its lack of distractions, which allows her to get her work done so she can enjoy dinner with her family before getting some restful sleep. The early start is less attractive to Giorgio, but he says being a Liggett student makes up for the inconvenience.

“The teachers at Liggett, and the small classes, means they can focus on you, and they want to help you,” Giorgio says, recalling his public middle school classrooms, some as large as 40 students. “Liggett is definitely the better experience, and I have a lot of friends here now.”

Sharing a learning environment means Sabrina and Giorgio can support each other. “I love having him here. He’s my best friend,” Sabrina says. “He’s someone I can talk to about anything, all the time. I help him with homework, and he helps me with the creative parts, and with coming up with ideas.”

Time management is a skill Giorgio learned from Sabrina. “My sister has helped a lot. If I had a question, or needed to print something at school, she came in and helped me,” he says, adding that friends from the football team were always available, a support that he says he’d like to pay forward through a future career in pharmacy or education. At least that’s his plan right now.

“I’m sure I’ll change my mind, but I like thinking ahead,” Giorgio says.

Sabrina is closer to that type of decision, and she’s looking forward next fall to attending Michigan State University, where she will begin studying veterinary medicine. “I’m planning to do my pre-reqs and apply to vet school right away,” she says. But first, she’ll complete her Liggett Academic Research Project, which she expects to use to raise awareness about elephant extinction rates and elephant support organizations.

Academically and socially, Sabrina and Giorgio thrive at Liggett. They have developed close relationships with their teachers, and know they can depend on them for support. “I think of my teachers as friends. I can always send them emails and ask for help outside of class,” Sabrina says. “I’m never scared to raise my hand to ask questions, especially in a class of ten kids.”

Recognizing that she’ll likely sit in classrooms with 10 times the number of students in a typical Liggett class, Sabrina is prepared to be more than a number at Michigan State. “Next year, I’ll introduce myself to my instructors and tell them to expect me during office hours,” she says with confidence.

Until then, Sabrina made sure to enjoy everything Liggett has to offer, including football — Sabrina as team manager and Giorgio as a right offensive tackle. She also enjoys being in the musical this year, it is the 1960s production She Loves Me, a suitable follow up to Sabrina’s lead role last year as pants-in-the-family Ethel Coots, from Hello! My Baby.

“It was so fun, and also cool because the character was a strong female personality, and that’s who I am as a person,” Sabrina says.

Both Malkouns agree that Liggett school life is something they’d never give up for another school choice.

“The atmosphere does change a person,” Giorgio says. “It’s changing me, and giving me a different outlook on what I want to be when I’m older. People want to be there. They want to have a future. That’s what I like.”