Elena is of Armenian descent and was born in Iran. She grew up playing chess with her father and also became interested in helping him with his hobby of repairing electronics. At age 16, she won the Women’s Chess Championship in Iran, and won again the following year. In high school she was required to complete math classes up to calculus, but admits that she really wasn’t very interested in the subject. Elena and her family came to the U.S. in 2000.
Elena entered GCC and immediately immersed herself in ESL classes.
Her previous experience with mathematics changed dramatically in Kim Foong Chong’s calculus classes. She described the work as “beautiful.” While doing homework for Carol Paxton’s math class, she began to use her own formula and found that it was faster. With encouragement from Paxton, Elena went on to systemize, formally write, and prove her work. She has sent her theorem to the AMATYC Review and hopes it will published soon. She also credits Rick Guglielmino with encouraging her in his physics classes. She took several of his classes and found that he was not only an amazing lecturer, but also offered interesting labs for his class. In less than three years, Elena completed over 92 units with a 3.83 GPA.
Inspired by her father, Elena embraced that same fondness for electronics. She entered Caltech in the fall of 2003, majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in mathematics. Elena credits the encouragement and tremendous support of her parents for giving her the opportunity to concentrate on her studies. Given her love of math and physics, her future plans include going to graduate school and eventually doing research.