Class of 2002
In 1997, Eleanor Chen (Chatsworth resident) made what most people would consider a big transition from middle school to a university campus. Just 11 years old, Elly began her life as a college freshman through Cal State L.A.Âs Early Entrance Program (EEP), which integrates extraordinarily gifted students directly into campus life. Far from intimidating, Cal State L.A. and EEP were just the challenge she needed, says Elly. In middle school, she says, Âteachers thought I had an Âattitude.Â I completed classwork early and I was bored.Â
The difficult transition for Elly had been from 6th grade to middle school, and from a small parochial institution to a ÂhugeÂ public school. It was clearly a challenge to place Elly in middle school classes: ÂBy the time I was 11, I had already finished pre-algebra,Â she recalls. A family friend spoke to EllyÂs parents about Cal State L.A.Âs program, and Elly jumped at the chance.
Outgoing and friendly, Elly found the specialized EEP program made the large campus Âworkable,Â with a lounge and study area dedicated solely to ÂEEPsters,Â a coordinator for guidance, and many like-minded peers.
At the outset, Elly was anxious to get involved. A friend, also in the EEP program, had been elected president of Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), the UniversityÂs student government organization. Elly sat in on some sessions: ÂIt was mind-opening,Â she recalls. ÂI was amazed that students actually had a say at the University!Â Elly filled a vacancy as ASI representative-at-large. Later, she ran for the ASI executive board post of secretary/treasurer and won. ÂWe ended that year with a 25% surplus,Â she beams. ÂThat was only possible because of a lot of hard workÂespecially by the executive board.Â
ThereÂs no denying that EllyÂs leadership skills have blossomed: sheÂs served as vice president for the campus chapter of Golden Key honor society and for Circle K volunteer service and leadership training club, and has been the vice-chair and fiscal committee chair for the University-Student Union. In her first year, Elly received the Freshman Award from Phi Kappa Phi national honor society, and was awarded the Cal State L.A. Alumni Association scholarship in both 2000 and 2001.
In her spare time, Elly demonstrates her contemplative side through creative writing, playing the violin (she has recently cut back on her piano playing) and in the practice of judo (she says she finds it less aggressive than kung-fu, which she also studied).
As for her future plans, sheÂs contemplating a Âcareer in business as a consulting manager.Â At 16, sheÂs thinking she might take some time off to explore what she really wants to do next. Elly was the youngest graduate at Cal State L.A.Âs 55th Commencement on June 15, and received a B.S. in business administration.
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