Hello, my name is Ana Bella Gabrielian and I’m from Glendale, California. My parents are Leo and Anita Gabrielian. My dad was born in Armenia and came to the U.S. when he was a teenager with my grandma Rosa, grandpa Minas, and his sister Angela. My Grandma and Grandpa were both born in Romania because they were displaced as a result of the Armenian Genocide taking place before and during World War 1. My mom was born in Diriamba, Nicaragua, a small town about 2 hours drive from Managua. She emigrated to the U.S. when she was 2 years old with her mother Ana, her father Evenor, and her 6 month old sister Maria. They went back and forth between Nicaragua and Los Angeles for 10 years and then settled in central LA.
I didn’t really start appreciating my Nicaraguense culture and the beautiful things that came along with it until I went to high school. I went to Immaculate Heart High School – an all-girls Catholic high school on the border between Los Angeles and Hollywood. It was much different than my middle school. My middle school was very white and my high school was a beautiful mix of Black, Latina, Asian, White and everything in between. I say this often – but I loved my high school so much. While I was at my high school I became friends with some of the other Latinas in my class and I started noticing some things – our families listened to the same type of music and had the same kinds of family parties and had similar, hardworking mentalities. One of my classmates was even Nicaraguense – the first Nicaraguense person I had met that was not related to me!
”That doesn’t mean you get A’s – that may not even mean you get B’s. That means you do your best and you get through it and you will find your support system along the way.
Going from IHHS to USC was a little bit of a shock as I’m sure you can imagine mostly because I went from being in classes with all girls to being one of the only girls in my class. One thing I brought with me from my high school though was the willingness to learn and the curiosity to ask questions. One of the most important things that happened to me while I was at USC happened to me in the week before school started. I went to a symposium for black and brown kids and the speaker there told me that I had 4 years to get this education and to do it amazingly. That doesn’t mean you get A’s – that may not even mean you get B’s. That means you do your best and you get through it and you will find your support system along the way. In my second year at USC I started to get more involved around campus and I joined the Aerodesign team (ADT) and SHPE. SHPE really became my happy place. Second semester sophomore year I studied abroad (highly recommend) and it took me off track a bit and a lot of my imposter syndrome (especially in ADT) kicked in. I started thinking that the team had moved on without me and I was left behind and the technical knowledge that I had wasn’t enough. Not to mention my classes the semester I returned gave me the lowest GPA I had ever received. However, at the end of that year – I felt stronger than I had ever been before. I was doing highly technical classes while organizing SHPE events, and landing a position at Northrop Grumman for the summer.
After USC, I attended Georgia Tech for my master’s in Aerospace engineering, with a specialization in aerodynamics. While I had to adjust to the changes that came from going from Viterbi Aerospace engineering program to Georgia Tech’s much larger Aerospace engineering program, I realized that there was one common factor: me. My willingness to learn and curiosity enough to ask questions was still there – is still here. My drive and my work ethic will always be with me. These are all things that came with my upbringing. I come from a family of immigrants – my parents and grandparents are the hardest working people I know. My mom came from a small town in Nicaragua and became an executive at AT&T by the time she retired. My grandfather was a milkman in Soviet Armenia and raised a son that became a successful insurance broker.