Changemakers Spotlight: Liz Turcik ’12

Created: September 4, 2023  |  Last Updated: September 4, 2023  |  Category:   |  Tagged:
A photo of Liz Turcik in her W&J cap and gown.
Liz Turcik, W&J Class of 2012

Liz Turcik is a 2012 Washington & Jefferson College graduate who majored in History, Spanish and Secondary Education. Today, she is the Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Maui Preparatory Academy (Maui Prep), where she is responsible for admission, enrollment management, financial aid and scholarships.

  • She also serves as the school’s registrar and teaches AP U.S. History and AP Human Geography.

Why It Matters: The recent wildfires in Lahaina on Maui have displaced nearly 3,000 students. In response, Turcik opened admissions at Maui Prep for the displaced students and received 1,000 applications within five days.

  • “With no Wi-Fi and no cell service, we had 808 in-person paper applications and 200 more email applicants for any open spaces,” shared Turcik.

By The Numbers: Turcik processed and consolidated the 1,000 applications to 145 and scheduled interviews with all of them within six days.

  • Ultimately, they accepted 141 students, expanding the school from an average of 20 students per class, kindergarten through 12th grade, to a total enrollment of 390 students.
  • “Accepting these new 141 students has been incredibly moving, yet waitlisting the remaining 900 has been heartbreaking,” she confessed.

While wanting to help everyone, Turcik and the school’s staff are still proud that they filled every seat possible and maximized the physical capacity of the school to help as many children as possible.

What They’re Saying: “I thought doing three degrees and two sports at ‘DubJay’ was difficult,” expressed Turcik. “This experience enabled me to utilize those leadership and research skills in a real-world context for good. I am proud of what I have spearheaded to accomplish here to serve the students of Lahaina.”

  • Turcik has been humbled by the work she and her team at Maui Prep accomplished in such a short period – six days!

“[This experience] has indelibly changed me. We are giving hope and light to a community that is so devastated by the tragedy. We are giving a fresh start to those who are desperate for normalcy,” she added.

Zoom Out: Turcik pursued education and a career serving students because of the professors she had at W&J and the positive internship experience at JFK Middle School (Washington, Pennsylvania).

  • Her W&J College experience included four years as a field hockey and lacrosse team member, winning the Empire 8 Field Hockey Tournament and participating in the NCAA tournament during her senior year.
  • She’s now in her final year as a doctoral candidate at Baylor University, and her dissertation thesis focuses on the pedagogical practices teachers utilize to encourage critical thinking and civic engagement in social studies classrooms.

“As an educator, I always refer to my experience at W&J as it had paramount importance in shaping who I am today,” she said. “[My] W&J education was a crucial pinnacle to allowing me to grow as an authentic leader with integrity.”

The Bottom Line: Turcik is now working hard to raise awareness about the situation confronting her new and returning students as their families struggle with no income.

  • Maui Prep’s “One ‘Ohana One Goal” campaign seeks to ensure the people of Lahaina can support themselves in the aftermath of the disastrous wildfires and continue to call Lahaina their home.
  • The campaign offers two options: Sponsor-a-Student and Disaster Relief.

Discover the available options and how to contribute.

Go Deeper: Learn more about the students of Maui Prep from coverage by The Washington Post and Good Morning America.