Eastern Michigan University senior Raya Lasiewski inspires hope and healing through personal journey with eating disorder

Raya Lasiewski at the Student Center gazebo with her decorated mortarboard for graduation.

YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University senior Raya Lasiewski embodies resilience and dedication to assisting others. Overcoming the trials of a challenging childhood scarred by food insecurity, she confronted and conquered an eating disorder. As she prepares to graduate from EMU on Saturday, April 27, Lasiewski is poised to embark on a career as a therapist, focusing on aiding those battling eating disorders and substance abuse.

“I’m grateful to be here to share my experiences with others who may find it difficult to pursue their education while experiencing health issues,” said Lasiewski.

Lasiewski's journey began in a Russian orphanage, where she spent the first seven years battling hunger. After being adopted and moving to the United States, the trauma continued to impact her relationship with food. In high school, she tragically lost a close friend to suicide, leading her to develop restrictive eating habits as a coping mechanism.

Despite the dangers of her eating disorder, Lasiewski's weight loss was initially met with praise from doctors and peers. This experience fueled her confusion and isolation. It wasn't until fainting at work that she finally sought professional help.

Lasiewski faced further challenges once doctors initially dismissed her concerns due to not meeting their specific criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. Determined to recover, she found support at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center in Illinois.

"The treatment center believed me," Lasiewski said. "They made me feel safe."

With the center's help and support, Lasiewski passionately advocates for eating disorder awareness. She most recently served as the coordinator for the annual Ann Arbor National Eating Disorders Association Walk on April 13. While pursuing her master's degree at EMU, she actively works to raise awareness and inspire others struggling with similar challenges.

"EMU has played a crucial role in helping me pursue my dream of becoming a social worker specializing in eating disorders and substance use," Lasiewski said.  "My goal is to help others understand that overcoming an eating disorder is a lifelong journey, and I want to be an example of the light at the end of the tunnel."


About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

April 17, 2024

Written by:
Brittany Mobley

Media Contact:
Brittany Mobley