Lizzie Copulsky ’14 chose LMU as a transfer student because she liked the small class sizes and the tight-knit community. It wasn’t until she was pursuing her master’s degree at a large institution that Copulsky realized just how deep a commitment LMU faculty have for their students’ success. For Lizzie, it was Rachel Washburn, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and director of the Health and Society Program who would encourage her career trajectory, and later, inspire a meaningful gift to LMU’s Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts in honor of her late mother.
“Dr. Washburn was a large influence in my decision to go into public health,” said Copulsky. “Although I did not know her well at the time, looking back, she committed a lot of her time and care into helping me pursue my career path, whether she was suggesting graduate schools, reviewing graduate entrance essays, or helping me consider employment paths after I completed my M.P.H. (master’s in public health),” she said.
When Copulsky’s mother, Ellen Barreto, fell ill, she and her father, Jonathan Copulsky started discussing a possible legacy gift in her name. Ellen had been a first-generation student who earned her undergraduate degree at Radcliffe College (now Harvard University) and MBA at Stanford University. Her thirst for knowledge and education was seemingly never quenched, as she earned several certificates throughout her life, most recently as a Pilates instructor. For the Copulsky family, the best way to honor Ellen was by establishing the Ellen Carol Barreto Fellowship in Health and Society, with a focus on supporting women, first-generation college students and/or those who have historically had less access to independent research opportunities.