“FSU opened so many doors for me. I walked through every one.”
As a high school senior, Miami native Laura Irastorza dreamed of becoming a doctor and a social justice activist. She chose to attend Florida State University because she believed it epitomized everything she wanted to become.
The feeling was mutual. FSU recognized Laura’s talent and potential, paving the path to her future with a range of special programs designed to help ambitious students achieve their academic, professional and humanitarian goals.
Consequently, Laura arrived on campus her freshman year as a member of both the FSU Honors Program — in which she’d reap the benefits of smaller classes, access to specialized advisors, and much more — and the Honors Medical Scholars Program, which would offer her a strategic, supportive “fast-track” to medical school. In addition, she’d been admitted to the highly competitive Service Scholar program, from which she’d receive not only scholarship assistance but also the training and tools to affect positive change on campus and beyond.
“FSU opened so many doors for me,” Laura said. “I walked through every one.”
Four years later, Laura Irastorza is a recipient of FSU’s 2011 Profiles of Service Award. She will graduate soon with an honors degree in Exercise Science and a remarkable record of scholarship, leadership and service.
Then, she’ll head straight into the FSU College of Medicine as a first-year medical student. It’s a perfect fit, since a key component of the college’s mission is preparing doctors to work with medically underserved populations. On that front, Laura already is off to an impressive start.
As a sophomore, she founded FSU Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that travels around the world to perform life-changing surgeries on children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and palate.
And while leading FSU Operation Smile for three years, she also became heavily involved in FSU Without Words, a Center for Leadership and Civic Education program that works to raise awareness of social justice issues.
“When I met Laura I was immediately struck by her kind, warm nature,” said Dr. Elizabeth Foster, a College of Medicine faculty member who serves as an advisor to undergraduates in the Honors Medical Scholars Program. “As I learned of her work with Operation Smile and the many other commitments to helping others, it confirmed my view of her as a person capable of generating hope, and real change. I know she’ll become the kind of physician that her future patients admire.”
Meanwhile, Laura is the kind of student that everyone admires.
“I’ve met such inspirational faculty, staff and students at FSU and, thanks to them, I believe I can make a difference in the world and empower others to do the same,” Laura said. “To be a part of this community is my dream come true.”
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