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Episode 1: Rachael Fiege Story: One Night Changed Everything (1 of 2)

Rachael Fiege Story: One Night Changed Everything (1 of 2)

The death of college freshman, Rachael Fiege, rocked the small community of Zionsville, Indiana. Rachael left for college one day and was gone the next. No one could have foreseen the accident that would take her life and would change the lives of those around her…forever.


Laura Kauffman

Laura and Rachael were best friends growing up. Laura lived behind Rachael for most of their lives and the two were inseparable. Laura has been on Rachael’s First Week team since the beginning. Despite living in Portland, Oregan, you’ll often Laura on the friends panel at an RFW program discussing her “exit strategies”. 

Laura graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. After teaching for a year, she took a job with Stryker where she has risen to International Sales Rep.

Sarah Hirschman

Sarah graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and is finishing her doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of St. Augustine.

Srisha Pillay

Srisha and Rachael became best friends through soccer and was a member of the famous, “Core 4”.  She has been a part of Rachael’s First Week program and the student panel and hopes that hearing Rachael’s story has made a difference to others. Srisha graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Sciences, then went on to Northwestern University where she completed her Master’s of Medical Sciences as a Physicians Assistant.

Annie Weber

Annie completed her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications at Butler and now works as a media planner and buyer for a local Indianapolis advertising agency. She also finds time to volunteer as a youth soccer coach for a local girls travel team.

Hannah Elliot

Hannah and Rachael played soccer together through high school, sharing many great memories, including being part of the “Core 4”. Hannah has been with the Rachael’s First Week program since the beginning, often serving on the student panel. She still attends programs when she is available. Hannah graduated from Ball State with a Bachelor of Health Science and a minor in developmental psychology. She went on to graduate from the University of Indianapolis with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.

Sammy (Maethner) Kelly

Sammy and Rachael met on their childhood soccer team. The two became extremely close and shared an abundance of laughs and crazy times together. Sammy has been with Rachael’s First Week since our first program. Sammy completed her bachelors degree at the University of Evansville and is now in her fourth year of Veterinary school at the University of Illinois.

Mary Baluyut

Mary met Rachael through soccer and high school where they became best friends. Mary was another member of the famous, “Core 4”. Rachael was a big influence on Mary’s choice to attend IU. Mary helps with RFW to share Racheal’s story so students can be prepared, educated, and keep others safe. Mary graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Neuro sciences and then completed a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. She is now married and lives in Michigan where she works in a Trauma Center at Butterworth Hospital.


Episode 2: The Rachael Fiege Story: After the Fall (2 of 2)

The aftermath caused by the death of college freshman, Rachael Fiege, continued to have a ripple effect long after the fall. Following the devastating news, her friends and family pull together and look for the positives hidden in this tragedy in an effort to prevent other college students from suffering a similar heartbreak. Learn how Rachael’s story is just the beginning as her friends and family take this tragedy and create a program designed to help other young people. 

Episode 3: The COVID Crush

Is COVID crushing your soul? Is your social life turned upside down? What about parties? What about football? Will it ever end? Hear what other students are saying about these weird times. And don’t forget to share your thoughts with us as well at @RachaelsFirstWeek. 


5 Take Away Points…

  1. Be a good human being. 
    1. Wear a mask in public
    2. DO Physically distance – DON’T social distance
    3. This means you need to have social interaction – you just can’t go around touching people to get it.  Be more social and less physical
    4. Wash your hands – 20 seconds – seems like an eternity.  Make it go faster by listening to 20 seconds of your favorite song – just not in double time
    5. Be flexible.  Let’s face it – you are not in control of any one’s response to this pandemic but your own.  Develop the skill to roll with it
  2. Have a plan if you’re forced to leave your dorm and transition to online classes
    1. Have the basic necessities easily accessible if you have to survive for a few days – food, money, a place to go
    2. You don’t need to stay packed like a natural disaster is about to strike, but stay organized 
    3. Fully understand the contingency plans for changes in face-to-face as well as e-learning for each of your courses….and get it in writing.  Referring to the playbook during the semester will help you stay on track if things suddenly change
  3. Understand your student loans and how the CAREs act may or may not protect you
    1. Your financial counselors and your parents are your best resources.
    2. Be aware of scams.  As more of your personal and financial information goes online, there is always someone willing to help themselves to it without your permission.
  4. Go to your happy place
    1. Stay in touch with family – remind them you need care packages – weekly – or more often
    2. Ramp up your endorphins with a bit of physical exercise – fall is an amazing time outdoors
    3. Write down your memories for posterity.  Just like you’ve had to endure listening to your parents tell you how rough it was when they were your age, you can one-up them and create a masterpiece to share with others when you get to your parents’ age
    4. Help someone else.  There is no shortage of people needing a helping hand nowadays and there is no better way to put your problems in perspective than helping someone who is struggling.  
    5. Netflix and …… keep it creative, legal and physically distance while you’re doing it
  5. Be in tune with your body
    1. Are you sleeping more and still feel tired – or are you sleeping less
    2. Has your weight changed because you are eating more or less
    3. Are you finding people more annoying and getting short with them
    4. Do you find yourself wanting to be alone
    5. Are you drinking large amounts of alcohol or smoking – anything
    6. These are all signs of depression. It is the second hit of this pandemic. Just like any illness, recovery is much quicker and less painful the earlier you seek treatment.  All universities have mental health resources so take advantage of them.  And if it’s a friend or acquaintance who is in need, walk with them to get the help they need.  

Remember: National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week is September 6-9. Check out to get involved or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline if you or someone you know need immediate help. The number is 1-800-273-8255. Someone is there 24-7.


    Episode 4: Medical Amnesty Laws Save Lives
    Medical Amnesty, the Indiana Lifeline Law, and the importance of calling 911. DO NOT miss this important episode. Shelby, a college student, tells her compelling story about “making the call” against friends’ resistance and saving her friend’s life. Senator Jim Merritt speaks on the Lifeline Law, along with Jill Lees, IU Bloomington Chief of Police, and the IU Director of Student Legal Services, Stacee Williams.
    Learn more about the Lifeline Law at,
    NOTE:  This episode makes reference to services provided at Indiana University.  Information in this episode is applicable to all Indiana colleges and universities. 

    Guest Speakers

    Senator Jim Merritt

    Author of Lifeline Law, Indiana

    Jill Lees

    Chief of Police, Indiana University – Bloomington

    Stacee Williams,

    Director Student Legal Services, Indiana University


      Episode 5: To Vote or Not to Vote - That is the Question!
      From TV commercials to social media, you can’t get away from talk about the upcoming election. 
      Are you planning on voting? Why or why not? What are the issues that matter most to you? Our “man/woman on the street” spoke with college students. Listen to what other college students are thinking and feeling heading into the 2020 elections. Do you agree or disagree? 


        Episode 6: Recap of Season 1, Sneak Peek of Season 2 + Top Ten College Tips

        We are so excited to present Season 2 of SafeTEA by Rachael’s First Week podcast.  In this episode, you’ll hear a quick recap of Season 1 as well as get a sneak peek of what Season 2 has to offer.  Listen to the end so you don’t miss out on our Top Ten Tips for College Students.

        Stay tuned…our next podcast will drop on September 20th for Hazing Awareness Week.


        SafeTEA Top Ten Tidbits of Advice for Incoming Freshmen

        1. Your first semester will not determine your entire college experience.
        2. Remember when you go out if you see someone that is not okay, whether you know them or not, offer help.
        3. Don’t settle for college bookstore prices.  Shop around on Amazon or other sites and check to see if your bookstore price matches.
        4. You’re not invincible. Bad things do happen so be aware of what’s going on around you and be prepared.
        5. Go out with people you can trust. Use the buddy system and look out for each other.
        6. Be able to recognize signs of depression in yourself and others.
        7. It’s okay to stay in and have alone time. You don’t have to say yes to everything.
        8. Don’t be afraid to utilize campus resources if you feel overwhelmed, whether that be contacting your professor or the mental health serices your college offers.
        9. Schedule classes at times work for you. If you’re not an early person avoid 8 am classses.   
        10. Don’t be afraid to do the right thing.  If you see someone in trouble call 911. A drinking ticket is nothing compared to losing a life.
        Episode 7: College Hazing: How do we stop it?

        September 20th starts the week of National Hazing Prevention Week. In this podcast hear the harrowing story of hazing survivor, Tyler Perino, why he thought it couldn’t happen to him, and how his story is bringing awareness to this issue.  News Story:Hazing survivor hopes to change minds in sharing near-death experience.

        You’ll also hear from an expert, Judson Horras, President & CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference, and how his organization is working to stop hazing and prevent any further senseless deaths of college students. 


        Judson Horras is the President & CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference. After more than 18 years serving Beta Theta Pi—over eight as the Administrative Secretary—he took on this role in 2016 to lead the NIC into the future. Jud is a graduate of Iowa State University; he lives in Indianapolis with his two children, Anna and Andrew, who he hopes will enjoy meaningful fraternity/sorority experiences in the near future. 
        Tyler Perino is a former Miami University student and survivor of a near-death hazing experience. After his experience, Tyler moved closer to home and switched his focus. He is now studying psychology and law. Tyler spoke earlier this year at the statehouse in Ohio to help pass ‘Collin’s Law’ for hazing. He has spoken to other organizations and colleges in order to share his story and bring awareness.

        Collin’s Law is named after Collin Wiant, a victim of hazing. Wiant was an Ohio University student in 2018 when he attended a Sigma Pi fraternity party, where a coroner’s report said he died of asphyxiation due to ingestion of nitrous oxide.

        Collin’s Law expands criminal penalties for hazing and implements education and prevention procedures, particularly within Ohio colleges and universities. This law creates harsher penalties for hazing and increases transparency on college campuses.  

        July 6th, 2021. Collin’s Law was signed into law by Ohio Governor Dewine.


        Special thanks to Healthcare Initiatives Inc. for making this podcast possible through their generous support.

        Healthcare Initiatives Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private foundation supporting the advancement of human health and well-being.

        About Rachael’s First Week

        Rachael’s First Week is a program dedicated to   protecting the lives of high school seniors and college freshmen as they transition into young adult women and men. 

        These can be tumultuous years when peers often look to each other for guidance as they encounter novel and potentially dangerous situations, rather than engaging experienced mentors to provide solutions. 

        The mission of Rachael’s First Week is to develop the decision-making skills of teens as they enter this time of monumental change in their lives.


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        ©2021 Rachael's First Week

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