Scholar of the Week

Elena Martinez
Loyola Marymount University

Ever since she was a little girl, Elena Martinez has understood the meaning of “Échale ganas”, fondly remembering her Tios shouting those words when she was hitting a piñata. For Elena, this has become the “battle-cry” of her Mexican immigrant roots that spurs her passion and has driven her to reach important milestones in her academic career. At the 2019 Great Minds in STEM Conference, Elena was recognized as an Outstanding Undergraduate Student leader and presented with a 2019 scholarship from The Northrop Grumman Corporation. Elena is an undergraduate student at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), where she is currently majoring in mathematics with a minor in computer science.

Elena grew up hearing her father’s firsthand stories about the East L.A. student walkouts that made headlines in 1968. The protests put a spotlight on the subpar educational system that was available to Hispanic communities and encouraged lawmakers to provide equal opportunities for minority students. Inspired by her father’s impact, Elena continues his mission through her leadership, volunteer work, and service to the community. From helping Latino senior citizens learn about new technology to working with special needs children in the American Youth Soccer Organization, Elena strives to be proactive in every step of her journey.

In addition to her work with community-based volunteer groups, Elena is involved in multiple extracurricular activities at LMU. She is an active member of both the Latino Student Union and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Furthermore, she is a participant in her school’s Honors Program and has received recognition on LMU’s Academic Dean’s List. Elena currently works at the LMU Center for Service & Action as a Community Based Learning Student Coordinator, a position in which she partners with non-profit organizations to create hands-on learning activities for local students.

As a role model for aspiring STEM students, she elaborates on her accomplishments, “My keys to success are well delineated: never forgetting the lessons learned from my hard-working parents, applying the guidance and wisdom of my mentors, and harnessing the power of staying closely connected to my Hispanic community.”

Great Minds in STEM is proud to feature Elena as Scholar of the Week. Through her tireless efforts and dedication, Elena has embraced the message her mother repeats to her so lovingly and supportively-- a message that GMiS would like to share with all students pursuing STEM careers-- “Con ganas, todo es posible.”

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