Deciding on Huntsman
Born in Boston to Russian parents, Elana grew up bilingual and started learning French as a third language in middle school. Her new-found third language did not, however, keep Elana from maintaining connections to her heritage. She fundraised for a nonprofit organization called Ascent Russian Orphan Aid Foundation to support orphans and Russia, and she also participated in a Russian literature performance festival for the Boston community, which culminated in dramatic recitations of Tolstoy and Pushkin, among others. Elana was the captain of her high school math team, which participated at States and New England’s, and she danced for twelve years, competing in jazz and tap.
She learned about Huntsman through a student in the program and found her visit to Penn and Huntsman very encouraging. “The Huntsman staff was incredibly nice and welcoming. And walking up Locust walk was lovely.” Elana knew she wanted to study abroad as an undergraduate, and she also found economics appealing: “I was looking at a more practical application of math, a global perspective, greater career options and the ability to work in a different country.” Huntsman offered all of these possibilities, including an opportunity to continue her French studies.
This, however, does not mean Elana’s decision was an easy one. “I loved chemistry. I knew Huntsman was the best choice, but I missed chemistry.” Thus, once at Penn, Elana decided to intern during the summer of her freshman year at Genzyme, a biotech company, in biochemistry analytical research and development. “I wanted to make a definitive decision. Chemistry or economics was a difficult choice going into college. The summer internship confirmed my decision as the right one.” While at Genzyme, Elana found her work interesting, but she also noticed her thought process was more business oriented. That is, she looked at projects based on their development rather than primarily on their scientific merits. “It’s not as if I didn’t value the scientific aspects. I happened to look at things, such as drug shortages, from a business perspective. I knew I still ultimately wanted to work for patients, which is what led to my interest in health care and life sciences consulting.” Eventually Elana would decide to concentrate in Health Care Management and Policy. Finance is her other Wharton concentration, and she also minors in French and Mathematics.
More at Penn
Elana is involved in the Social Impact Consulting club, where she works with a group of students to create original and optimal solutions for non-profit clients in the Philadelphia area. She is also a Teaching Assistant for a probability course, STAT 430, leading weekly problem solving sessions. This has been a great experience for Elana because it has allowed her to understand different teaching methods, such as how to adapt the way material is presented for different types of learners. She is a researcher in positive psychology, learning how to apply positive psychology to multidisciplinary areas including business, and she is an associate editor of the Penn Bioethics Journal.
This summer Elana will be in Kazakhstan for three weeks with Penn International Business Volunteers working with a hospital to develop cost analyses, marketing plans, and a sustainability model. She is looking forward to this experience where she will be able to combine health care management and consulting with international aspects. Once she returns from Kazakhstan, she will intern at Digitas in Boston, in strategy and analysis, where she will develop advertising and design skills. She is excited for the incredible opportunity to spend the entire fall semester in Lyon, France. She is looking forward to improving her French speaking skills, including developing a more native accent, as well as interacting with her host family, French culture, and visiting the various regions of France.