School of Health
News Story

Human Science Junior Enjoys the Opportunity to Participate in Undergraduate Research

August 16, 2021 – Lizzie Graham (NHS’23) has enjoyed working on the research team of Dr. Jan LaRocque, associate professor of human science at the School of Nursing & Health Studies.

Lizzie Graham, a human science major, sits at an outdoor restaurant along a city street with an umbrella and buildings behind her and a set table in front of her.
Lizzie Graham (NHS’22), a human science major, has enjoyed the opportunity to take part in undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Jan LaRocque.

The junior investigates “the impact of sex and cell cycle on the repair of DNA double-strand breaks.” Participating in undergraduate research has been a truly meaningful opportunity, Graham said. 

“This experience has been incredibly rewarding, teaching me both valuable skills in the lab and also how to think critically as a scientist,” she said. “This summer, I worked on my project under Dr. LaRocque’s mentorship, and will continue studying sex, cell cycle, and DSB repair in the upcoming semesters.” 

‘Felt Like Home’

Growing up as a part of a military family, Graham has lived in four states. 

“I consider Moorestown, NJ my home because I have lived there since fourth grade,” she noted. “The mother of one of my best friends attended Georgetown for her undergraduate degree, and she was how I was initially introduced to the school.” 

Her visit to Washington and the campus made up her mind. “Once I toured, I knew that Georgetown was the university I wanted to attend because it felt like home and a place where I would be challenged to grow,” Graham said. 

‘The Best Decision’

In addition to her research in the lab, Graham participates with Catholic music ministry with the Office of Campus Ministry. She also serves as a student coordinator for the After School Kids Program at the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, & Service.

She has very much valued her major and the campus community. “Deciding to major in human science has been the best decision I have ever made,” she said. “I love the major, particularly because of how welcoming all of my peers and faculty are.” 

Graham noted the school and the university have positively influenced her life. “The NHS is such a welcoming community, and I know that my professors care deeply about my personal and academic growth,” she said. “Being at Georgetown has been such a blessing, especially in the NHS. Even when I felt stressed or confused about the path I wanted to take, there was always somebody to guide me along.” 

Career in Health Care

Graham explained that her interest in becoming a physician grew following her time receiving care in the hospital.

“When I was twelve, I spent a few weeks in the hospital as a patient,” she said. “By interacting with all of the people who took care of me, I learned exactly what it meant to be a doctor. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to study medicine so that I could treat children who were in the same position I was with compassion and tenderness.”

This coming year, Graham will take the MCAT and begin work on medical school applications – with the goal of specializing as a pediatric or neonatal surgeon. For now, she is also looking forward to the return to the Hilltop.

Return to Campus

“Since this semester is the first time everybody will be back on campus again, I am also thrilled to experience classes and life with friends in person,” she said.

“Although the path ahead is long, I feel more than supported by the peers and mentors I have found at Georgetown,” Graham continued. “I am incredibly grateful for everybody who has invested their time in making sure I learn and flourish as much as possible.”

By Bill Cessato