Elena Ionescu

What fears or anxieties did you have about going to college?

My principal concerns centered on my limited vocabulary and pronunciation. I was an ESL non-traditional student, having transferred at the age of 28 from a community college. Concurrently, I faced time management issues due to my diverse responsibilities. Additionally, I encountered familial challenges as my spouse was unsupportive of my educational pursuits. Furthermore, my collegiate journey led to a shift in my social interactions, as I could not maintain the same level of participation in social gatherings, resulting in the distancing of my Romanian friends. In essence, my anxieties revolved around language proficiency, time management, family dynamics, and evolving social connections.


  • MS Gerontology/CSULB, PhD Social Work (candidate)/University of Houston

- The more challenging the journey, the more gratifying the reward becomes. 
- Never entertain the thought of dropping out. Time flies, and before you know it, you'll be graduating.
- Stay assertive, seek assistance when needed, cultivate a network, and surround yourself with individuals you aspire to be like someday. 
- Gain practical experience during your college years through part-time jobs, volunteering, and internships. 
- Trust the process, your college degree is an asset and hard work ALWAYS pays off. 

I really enjoy crafting and have a special interest in creating activities that help people with dementia keep their minds active. While I'm not really into sports, I love going hiking. And my job (as a university lecturer) is something I'm truly passionate about -- I get to learn interesting things from my students while also teaching them.

  1. Not a thing, but a person – my husband
  2. A survival kit (includes a solar powered battery bank charger)
  3. My laptop bag (includes laptop, charger, mouse, pad, paper, and pens). It serves as a library and safety box. 

Since my immigration to America in 2006, my work experience begins from 2007 onwards. It took over a year to obtain my work permit. From 2007 to 2009, I served in customer service as an associate salesperson on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica for a well-known national brand specializing in baby and maternity clothing. This role revealed my aptitude for interpersonal skills and strong work ethics, influencing my choice to pursue a psychology degree.

In 2010, I worked as a math tutor within the public academic system in Inglewood, CA. This experience was both humbling and sobering, exposing me to the existence of poverty within one of the world's most affluent nations. It underscored the connection between economic conditions, quality of life, and the geographical area of residence.

Between 2010 and 2011, I served as an Applied Behavior Analyst, assisting children on the autism spectrum. Although I enjoyed working with children, navigating interactions with their parents proved challenging. This experience, however, played a pivotal role in shaping my trajectory as a gerontologist.

From 2011 to 2013, I worked as a Therapeutic Counselor at a spiritual center/retreat in Malibu. My primary focus was providing support to older adults facing terminal illnesses. It was during this time that I discovered my passion for working with the older adults, leading me to specialize in gerontology for my master's degree.

Since 2014, I have been affiliated with CSULB as an instructor, aligning my employment with my academic background.

My research focus is clearly centered on the field of older adults, particularly in the domain of psychosocial care for dementia. For this semester, I am teaching "Human Aging" (GERN401), a course that I have re-designed, and it has now gained popularity among students. I am responsible for teaching five sections of GERN401. In the past, at CSULB, I have also taught GERN200: "The Journey of Aging," GERN400: "Perspectives of Gerontology," and CAFF388: "Consumers vs. Technology: Who’s Winning?"