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Early Start Program gives first-year student a jump-start on education


Biochemistry student Elizabeth Rapacz took part in ASU's Early Start Program.

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August 28, 2019

Elizabeth Rapacz began her college career at Arizona State University two weeks earlier than her first-year student peers by enrolling in the Early Start Program. The first-generation student was inspired by her own personal health challenges to earn a biochemistry degree, with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon, but she felt a little lost as to how to navigate college. 

“My parents have expectations and I have expectations for myself, but I don’t really know how this is going to go,” said Rapacz. “But I know that as a freshman, I’m going to make mistakes, and I have to be OK with that since college is just one big learning experience.”

Rapacz is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated to the United States from Poland and met in Phoenix. She grew up in Pinetop, Arizona, and at the age of 5 was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This life-altering diagnosis and the close bond she formed with her endocrinologist would be the biggest influences in her choice of a college major and career goals. 

“I want to keep the legacy my endo taught me of actually caring for people and helping them through their struggles,” said Rapacz. 

Rapacz is pursuing her dream of attending a university and one day having a medical practice to help serve low-income families in the community. She entered ASU through the Early Start program, developed personal relationships with her peers and mentors and found a support system and resources through the School of Molecular Sciences

The Early Start program gave Rapacz a chance to do a test run of what college was going to be like and let her explore her interests and get involved with campus activities. She has joined eight clubs and is looking forward to networking with her peers and professors and finding an internship for hands-on experience in her major. And although she is majoring in biochemistry, she intends to study abroad and take advantage of every opportunity her college experience presents.

“My experience in the Early Start School of Molecular Sciences program was absolutely amazing. I met awesome peers and mentors who really gave me an idea of how college is going to be,” said Rapacz. “It also gave me a best friend and a close-knit group of friends I could go to before classes even started.”

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