Daring to Dream

Elin Mikaelian, a 2014 Hoover graduate, has taken what she’s learned and created her own playground, the Dream Alive Foundation.


Photo courtesy of Elin Mikaelian

Elin Mikaelin is striving to make a profound difference in the world.

By Cher Pamintuan and Matthew Dela Cruz, Staff Writers

There are many general ways to view high school: a place to create lasting memories, a “jail” that one has to attend for the next four years of their life, or simply, a place to discover. 

Elin Mikaelian, a 2014 Hoover High graduate, saw high school as an “amazing playground.”

As such, Mikaelian joined many clubs that opened her up to many great opportunities and equipped her with the necessary tools that she would one day use to cultivate her own non-profit organization. 

“I first met Elin as a member of my American Cancer Society Youth (ACSY) cabinet,” Kari Vargas, Hoover English teacher and advisor of ACSY, said. “She was so enthusiastic and willing to take on any project that came her way.”

During her time in ACSY, Mikaelian helped run sponsorships for the Desi Geestman Foundation for the celebrity basketball games and in her sophomore year, filled the position of Finance Lead, leading people nearly three times her age. 

“Elin was not only invaluable as a student, she has been a huge help at Relay the past few years,” Vargas said. “She is always willing to give her time and energy to a cause we both hold very dear.”

Mikaelian was also a part of the Virtual Enterprise Club. In this club, Mikaelian learned the basic ins and outs of starting and “being in” a business.  Mildred Outlaw, the head of  Virtual Enterprise and business program at that time, pushed Mikaelian to be an independent thinker, self-motivated, and have a strong work ethic. 

“I wasn’t an A student – I was an A-/B+ student that got to meet so many people and take advantage of so many amazing opportunities,” Mikaelian said. “I had my fun leadership experience and still got a good education.”

  Wanting to create a bigger change in any zip code, Mikaelian concentrated in Political and Economic Development in the Developing World, studied Political and Sustainable Businesses and Nonprofits, and in 2019, graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Economy.

Mikaelian and her friend, William Keshishyan, were one day discussing how important philanthropy is and the idea of starting a non-profit to be the leaders in our community and work with our neighbors to make it something great came up. 

Using all that she’s learned from high school and college, she set out to build her own playground that other kids could play in.

With Mikaelian’s productive solutions to the flaws she’s seen in other nonprofit organizations and Keshishyan’s knowledge in how the nonprofit system works, Dream Alive was born. 

Their goal is to create deep-rooted change through young children who are living below the poverty line by giving them education and bucket list awards. From school supplies to college and job preparation, Dream Alive, along with Los Angeles schools and organizations, is able to provide many academic necessities a child would otherwise not be able to have. Their basic bucket list items  range from getting a new water gun to practicing hockey with the LA Kings, there is no dream too big or small that Dream Alive will not fulfill for a child in their foundation. 

“At the Dream Alive Foundation, it is our responsibility to bring alive any and every dream our youth imagines – encouraging the most creative and surreal,” Mikaelian said. “Our mission is to awaken the neglected power in our youth by nurturing them to bring dreams alive, forever.”