Larrisa Alire ’20
Larrisa Alire ’20, a political science and pre-law major, is a 2019 Truman Scholar. She is one of 62 scholars chosen after the scholarship committee first narrowed the field from 840 applicants to 199 finalists. Coe College is the only college in the state of Iowa to produce a scholar.
Alire began the application process for the United States’ premier graduate fellowship, which awards up to $30,000 per student for graduate school, nine months in advance.
The Truman application involves the submittal of seven essays and a detailed policy proposal. Alire’s passion for public service involves advocating for women and children “to have a voice for those who don’t” and “to help the most vulnerable victims,” she said.
"In naming Larrisa the 2019 Scholar from Iowa, the Truman Foundation has recognized Larrisa's potential to be a transformative leader and dedicated public servant. Larrisa's involvement at Coe has developed her academic excellence, selfless leadership and community involvement, all of which distinguish her as an ideal Truman Scholar. It's been a privilege to help her achieve this incredible honor," Coe professor and National Fellowship Advisor Amber Shaw said.
Growing up in a diverse low-income community in Colorado, Alire knew a number of women who experienced domestic violence. With the ultimate goal of becoming a district attorney, she looks forward to being in a position to offer her assistance to those who need it the most. “I want to make sure victims have the resources that a lot of district attorney’s don’t take the time to offer,” Alire said.
In addition to advocating for women and children, Alire stays active on campus and in the community. At Coe, she has been involved in Student Senate, Model United Nations and also founded the Latinx club. She also spends time volunteering with local nonprofits Waypoint and KidsPoint.
During her sophomore year, Alire took advantage of Coe’s Washington D.C. term and spent the term as a legislative intern to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. A term in D.C. further fueled her passion for public service. She spent time studying top political issues including immigration, education and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“Everyone at Coe has been supportive throughout the Truman application process,” said Alire. “Professor Shaw reviewed my essays and even set up a panel of professors to help me practice interviewing. They were all there to support me even though I hadn’t previously had them as professors.” She’s also been receiving guidance from Provost Paula O’Loughlin and 2018 Truman Scholarship recipient and Coe College senior Kelly May.
"Congratulations to Larrisa on receiving this prestigious scholarship. Larrisa's contributions both on campus and in the community embrace the essence of the Truman Scholarship — public service leadership. Larrisa is a true change agent. We are humbled to support students like Larrisa as they work to make the world a better place and proud that Coe is part of her story," Coe Provost Paula O'Loughlin said.
“Coe has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have had at other colleges. My plan was to stay in Colorado for my undergraduate education,” Alire said. “But as a recipient of Coe’s full-tuition Williston Jones Diversity Leadership Scholarship, Coe made college possible for me.”