Embracing Community

Lizzie Wright with her mom Shari and brother Bishop
Lizzie Wright with her mom Shari and brother Bishop

Lizzie Wright was in 10th grade when she watched a TED Talk about controlling someone else’s arm with your brain.

“It got me thinking — we’re all walking around, talking to people, moving our hands, and just kind of taking it for granted,” she said. “We all have this brain and it looks pretty much the same on the outside, and has the same functions, yet we are all different. And we don’t fully know why. I wanted to know why.”

That curiosity led Wright to Georgia Tech, where she graduates this week with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, with minors in health and medical science and philosophy. She leaves behind a community that has become a defining part of her life.

Through EXCEL, Georgia Tech’s postsecondary education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Wright mentored five students and later served in a leadership role overseeing the entire group of mentors.

“EXCEL taught me more than anything else,” she said. “I learned skills like how to budget because we worked on that together, how to manage my time, how to walk into new environments and approach joining new clubs and groups.”

Wright was also selected for Ramblin’ Royalty in 2022, an honor bestowed on two students each year. Ramblin’ Royalty students serve throughout the year at campus events and in other leadership roles.

“I was nominated by my sorority, which was very humbling. I always thought about the idea of applying based on previous winners and what I’ve seen them do over the years, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Going through the process made me realize how much I love Georgia Tech and how grateful I am for this place, and it gave me a tangible way to give back.”

Through Greek life, Campus Outreach, and the EXCEL program, Wright not only found a path for her career but a path for her life.

“I joined all three my first year and just never really needed to find anything else. They all taught me that the Tech bubble, though it’s beautiful, there’s so much more outside of Tech, and that perspective kept me going. We’re all here for a reason, and that reason is to take what we’ve learned and go forth into the world.”

For Wright, that means completing her EMT certification with Grady Hospital and applying to medical school. Her passion for global health and medicine was solidified during a summer in Ethiopia working on a medical mission.

“It was my first full encounter with medicine. We were doing rounds one day, and the doctor I was working with came across this patient who had just had spinal surgery, but he had bedsores and needed to be lifted off the bed without having his spine compromised. Eventually, the doctor says, ‘My kid has a bike. Let’s take the tire off the bike, put it under his spine, and raise it so his skin can breathe.’ So he goes home, disassembles the bike, sterilizes the tire, and configures it in a way that raises the person up from the bed. And it worked. And it was just because his kid had a bike.

“That type of thinking — engineering thinking, even though I’m a neuroscience major — is so cool because you just work with what you’ve got.”

That unpredictability, and pursuing a career that could take her anywhere, is part of what drew Wright to medicine.

“That’s the reason I want to do EMT. You have no idea what you’re walking into. You have your jump bag, your partner, and your knowledge. What are you going to do? How are you going to help this person before you can get them to the hospital?”

As Wright prepares for Commencement, she’ll be joined by her family — including her brother Bishop, also a Tech graduate, who encouraged her to be a Yellow Jacket in the first place.

“He really pushed me early on to realize this wasn’t just a good school, but way more than that. Georgia Tech offers so much, but I would really advise most students to not just use it as a launchpad, but to acknowledge this place for the community it offers. I think that is key not only to enjoying the college experience, but really to seeing Georgia Tech for everything it has to offer and not waste these years.”

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Kristen Bailey

Institute Communications