Rebecca Jekogian: A Natural Born Leader

Rebecca Jekogian - A 12-year-old Visionary Student
Rebecca Jekogian - A 12-year-old Visionary Student

You wrote a letter to President Hennessy at Stanford University and he took the time to reply. Tell me a bit about his letter and how that’s motivated you.

The letter was incredibly inspiring. I can tell you every word of it because of the huge impact it had on me. I’ve always wanted to attend Stanford; I believe it is one of the best institutions to allow me to pursue my dream of having a dual career as a neuroscientist and hedge fund manager. The fact that President Hennessy took the time to reply was a dream come true in itself, but his actual words were even more amazing. He treated me like I was older than I really was by affirming my belief that my thoughts, dreams, and aspirations had real importance. Someone believing in me without question is a hard thing to find, especially for a girl my age. I am forever grateful to President Hennessy.

You’re only twelve years old and already have dreams of being a neuroscientist and a hedge fund manager. What inspired these dreams?

I initially wanted to be a stock broker, but then I decided I should do something good for people instead of just making a lot of money, so I decided to become a neuroscientist. I’ve always been interested in science and the brain. What better way to change lives?

You recently spoke at the U.N at International Day of Women and Girls in Science—an incredible honor for anyone, let along someone of your age. What message did you want to convey to everyone listening?

I wanted to let everyone in that room know that girls are not only smart, but also hardworking, capable, and every bit as deserving as boys. I want people to know that despite the fact that they may think they are for equal rights, they need to practice what they preach. They need to let girls speak their minds, share their ideas, and just be themselves. Young girls like me have a lot to share that would never even cross the minds of adults or of men.

What is “Stanford Time” and how do you stay focused on your goals?

“Stanford Time” was something my dad and I started working on when I was in third grade. I would set aside an hour every morning to do something that would help me with my goal of getting into Stanford, like computer coding, math, Spanish, or writing letters. I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve written 30 letters to women in science and tech during Stanford Time. A lot of the women I wrote to enthusiastically replied to me.

You’re working so hard and achieving so much, but you’re still very young. What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?

I don't like to relax or sleep. I swing on my pull up bar first thing in morning.

Who do you look up to most for inspiration?

Sandrine Thuret is a successful investigator and lecturer in stem cell research. She is a woman who has used her incredible intelligence and ambition not just to make money, but to help others in the best way she knows how. To me, that is the ultimate role model and inspiration. I wrote her a letter asking for advice on how to plan for my future studies, and she didn’t respond initially. A few weeks after I wrote her, she asked me to attend the International Day of Women at the United Nations in her place! When some of the UN organizers heard my story, they invited me to speak at the opening session, so I did. I will always remember that day as one of the best of my life, and all it took was another woman who was willing to listen to me and my story.

You obviously have a lot of long-term goals like Stanford and professional careers, but what is your most immediate goal you’d like to achieve?

Starting a hedge fund, which is the goal I am working on this month.

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