Spotlights & Profiles

Student Spotlights

High-achieving siblings to be honored as Founders Scholars

Mar. 27, 2014

For most of their lives, milestones and accolades for the four Kusisto siblings -- Laura, Sarah, Paul and Kevin -- have been staggered.

Kusisto kids

From left, Laura, Kevin, Sarah and Paul Kusisto in summer 2013. | PHOTO COURTESY OF RAY KUSISTO

But on April 6, during this year’s Founders Day, all of the siblings will, for the first time, receive the same honor at the same time.

“I can’t remember a time when all of us have been honored at the same ceremony,” Sarah said. “It’s exciting.”

During the event, the foursome, along with thousands of IU students, will be designated as Founders Scholars. The award is given to students who have earned a cumulative grade-point average of 3.8 or above. The ceremony takes place at 2 p.m. April 6 in the IU Bloomington Auditorium.

High achievers

The Kusisto siblings are no strangers to academic accolades. All four earned IU Excellence Scholarships and Hutton Honors Scholarships. 

Laura, who graduated from IU in 2013 with a 3.99 GPA, is first in line. During her time at IU, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Science in applied health science, and she double minored in sociology and psychology. She is working on her master’s degree at the University of Kentucky in hopes of becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist. 

Next is Sarah, a Herbert Presidential Scholar and current senior at IU who holds a 4.0 GPA. She’s double majoring in math and English, with a double minor in Spanish and psychology.

Rounding out the sibling group are the Kusisto twins, Kevin and Paul, who are freshmen.

Kevin’s passion for writing led him to major in journalism. He’s an Ernie Pyle Scholar and a National Merit Scholar.

Paul is majoring in computer science with a minor in business. He was a direct admit to the computer science program and is working on a computer vision project with the IU swim team. 

When it comes to academic success, Paul said a lot of hard work goes into achieving his 4.0 GPA.

“It's important for me to achieve academically, but what's more important is actually understanding the ideas being taught,” he said. “Regurgitation of information can sometimes get you by in school, but that's not an education. I want an education.”

For Sarah, the college experience is something she has enjoyed sharing with all three of her siblings. She even lived with her sister and currently has a class with brother Kevin.

Kusisto kids

From left, Paul, Kevin, Sarah and Laura Kusisto waiting for the school bus in 2000. | PHOTO COURTESY OF RAY KUSISTO

Although their academic paths are different, Sarah said they all share the motivation their parents instilled in them to both achieve academically and give back to others. The siblings have been heavily involved in extracurricular activities, have spent time studying abroad and are involved in service projects.

“They always emphasized the importance of education and academics growing up but also emphasized balance,” she said. “They wanted us to be involved in the community, and I think that’s been really important.”

As she prepares to receive another honor next month, Sarah said she looks forward to sharing the spotlight with her siblings who, in their own way, are leaving their mark on IU. 

“I’m proud of all of us,” Sarah said. “I think it's nice that we can see in this ceremony how similar we really are. … We all have a similar outlook, and we want to do the same things and make a difference. It’s really validating to know whatever way we choose to get involved in the community, our efforts are rewarded.” 

Two more family members in the audience will be just as excited as the four siblings: parents Ray and Kathryn Kusisto.

“What Kathryn and I are most pleased about is that all four of our kids have internalized an essential ingredient for success in school and in life: perseverance and sustained effort,” Ray said.

“Even when it’s inconvenient. Especially when it’s not easy. … Our kids don’t make excuses for not getting their work done; they do the work.”

Read more Student Spotlights stories »