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Incoming Freshmen get a FastStart

Incoming Freshmen get a FastStart on Their College Education

The FastStart program is designed to provide a head start to incoming freshmen who want to pursue a health care career.

(August 1, 2005)

This summer 12 recently admitted UC Riverside freshmen will forego typical summer pursuits to take part in a five-week intensive program that will give them a jumpstart on their college education.

FastStart, a five-week intensive summer program that began July 24 and runs through Aug. 26, 2005, is designed primarily for disadvantaged incoming UCR freshmen who are interested in health care careers. The goal is to provide participants with the academic and social support needed to help them persist and succeed in their science curriculum.

A typical FastStart day lasts from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with mandatory evening study sessions. Participants get instruction in math, biology and chemistry, take part in study skills workshops, learn about campus resources and receive mentoring from student staff. They will also visit local health care facilities and see doctors at work.

During the five-weeks, the students live in an on-campus residence hall.
Working and living together for the five weeks helps students build strong personal bond with each other and the program staff, said Eppi Azzaretto, FastStart program coordinator.

“These new students will show up to class their first day with close friends and strong mentors that they have become close to,” she said. “This is a crucial step in helping them to adjust to the pace and demands of a college-level curriculum.”

The 12 students were chosen from among 45 applicants. All freshmen, regardless of their major, were invited to apply for the program. To be eligible, students must have met the requirements to take Math 5, UCR’s Pre-Calculus class. Preference was also given to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as defined by the University of California system, and to students who indicated a commitment to pursuing a health science career.

Since its beginnings in 1999, more than 140 students have attended FastStart. As a group, these FastStart students have outperformed their peers in the critical gateway science classes and have achieved higher grade point average’s in their first year on campus, said Azzaretto. Many have gone on to medical school and other health science careers. One-third of this year’s entering group of medical students in the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences were participants in FastStart 2002.

“We’re very proud of these students’ FastStart roots,” said Azzaretto.

The California Wellness Foundation, the Shirinian/Kaloostian Fund for Disadvantaged Students and the Dr. John Lorentz family work with the Division of Biomedical Sciences to fund the program. All FastStart students attend at no cost to themselves or their families.

Students, their families, UCR administrators, and local physicians celebrate the completion of the five-week program with a barbecue hosted by the J.W. Vines Foundation and the Division of Biomedical Sciences. The event also allows students to meet doctors who may become future mentors, said Azzaretto.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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