Sophomore Math/Computer Science Student Wins National Recognition

Elena Martinez, a sophomore applied math major with computer science minor, received the HENAAC Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leadership Award this September at the Great Minds in STEM conference in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

The award is issued by Great Minds in STEM, a non-profit organization that focuses on STEM educational awareness programs for Hispanics and recognizes exceptional performance by college students in academics, leadership and service to the community.

“I was so excited to be considered a role model and an example for minorities and females in STEM,” said Martinez. “It’s both self-motivating and intimidating because I’m just a sophomore.”

The 2019 award was presented to two students chosen from about 1,400 applicants. Prior to receiving the award, Martinez learned she was a recipient of a Great Minds in STEM scholarship – a $2,000 award sponsored by Northrup Grumman. She was also selected by Great Minds in STEM as Scholar of the Week on Oct. 15.

The sky is the limit for this native of Rosemead, CA.

“I began school as an English Learner despite being born here,” said Martinez. Her parents were born in Mexico while Martinez was born in the United States. “I always had a tendency toward math. I didn’t need English to do math.”

In high school, she often found herself the only Hispanic student in her math classes. At Loyola Marymount University, Martinez says she has felt only support and encouragement. In addition to math, she is concentrating in electrical engineering and pursuing a minor in computer science.

“I love that I can take classes other than math classes,” said Martinez. “It helps me develop a greater understanding of math and how to apply it in different fields. I feel when I get a job, I will have other skills as well.”

Martinez – who is a campus tour guide, a McNair scholar, a research assistant and active in the service organization Agape – hopes to attend graduate school before launching her career.

Along the way, she says, she plans to help others.

“So many people have served as mentors and an inspiration to me. Now I want to do the same.”