Aspiring author studying creative writing and WGSS at UWEC
Anecia Larsen, 23, graduated from Inver Hills Community College in 2018 with an Associate of Arts (A.A.). Anecia was an exceptionally engaged participant in TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills. She transferred to the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, where she’s already earned her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Creative Writing. She’s on track to complete her bachelor’s degree in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) this spring.
Anecia is centering her longer range career plans on becoming a top-selling author of fiction with a feminist perspective, but at the moment she’s working to be an advocate for people whose voices are ignored or misrepresented, including members of the transgender community.
“I would also like being an advocate for young adults who went through similar situations I went through while applying for college or figuring out what they want to do after graduation,” she said. “When I was going through that difficult process as a first-generation college student, it was hard to understand the terms, and I just want to be there for a student experiencing these things. It’s much easier to get things done when you have support from a person who has been there before—and that is what I want to be for these kiddos.”
A short story by Anecia Larsen
Every single year Ezra and I go on a little road trip. In reality, it takes us about two weeks to go from Michigan to South Dakota. We first started this annual tradition when we first started to date. It was right after our fifth date and Ezra decided that she wanted to go to South Dakota for some odd reason, but she didn’t have anyone to go with so I offered to drive, and a few days later, we were in my 2006 Camry, bags packed and excitement flowing through our blood.
This year is going to be no different. Well, maybe the fact that we have a new car, but it’s still going to be us, Ezra and Harry.
“Harry?” Ezra asks as I walk into the living room to grab the last bag that was on the couch.
“What’s up?” I ask, pausing to hear what she has to say.
“Did you pack the extra bag of Doritos Cool Ranch?”
“Ezra, did you seriously just ask that?” I laugh. Since I’ve known her, she’s had this weird obsession with the nastiest chips known to man. And even though I’m married to her, I still have no idea why she loves them.
“I didn’t want you to forget, sweetie, and knowing me, I would’ve bought five bags at the store the other day.”
I roll my eyes and continue to load the remaining bags into our car. I think there’s an issue with every woman that packs bags for a short trip: they always overpack for unnecessary things. Even though this trip is only for two weeks, she packed five bags. Compared to my three bags, I have no idea what’s all in there. I know for sure clothes and hygiene stuff, but in the other three I have no clue.
When I was younger, my mom would always do the same thing for us when we would go on road trips. There would be a food bag, a dirty laundry bag (for after the trip), a bag for soaps and toothpaste, and then finally a bag for her own clothes. And that’s what Ezra does, minus the whole dirty laundry bag.
Anecia at UWEC…
Anecia made the UWEC Dean’s List for fall 2020. She belongs to the Alpha Tau Chapter of the Iota Iota Iota National Honor Society, the Feminist Club and English Club at the university. She also works two jobs: Olive Garden host and front-desk security person on Friday nights at her former dorm.
“At Olive Garden, I usually work all weekend and almost all day,” she related. “I start my shifts at 11 a.m. and end my night around 8 p.m. During the weekends, it’s a lot busier so that’s where I can get my hours in. And I enjoy working there. I met my friend Heather at Olive Garden when I started three years ago, and we still talk to this day.”
On top of holding down two jobs and finishing her WGSS degree, Anecia is also completing two internships. “I’m an editorial spring intern for Barstow & Grand, a local magazine journal place,” she reported. “I’m also the PRIDE event intern for the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center.”
Anecia is on schedule to graduate from UWEC in spring 2021, but she’s putting graduate school on hold for the time being.
“I’ve been in college for five years,” she said, “so I just want to focus on getting a real ‘adult’ job and moving back home.”
TRIO Student Support Services connection…
During her time at Inver Hills, Anecia took part in TRIO Student Support Services. She made the most her experience in TRIO and found a home with TRIO SSS staff and students.
“I spent a lot of time in the TRIO office,” she remembered.
Anecia was invited as a TRIO alumna to speak at TRIO United for a New Era—the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 40th Annual Policy Seminar held in late March 2021. She delivered three 5-minute speeches at the virtual event, which included Minnesota legislators attending via Zoom.
Three words that describe you as a TRIO SSS proponent:
FIERCE. ACCEPTING. TRUSTING.
More about the 2021 Annual Policy Seminar: TRIO United for a New Era¹
More than 800 TRIO professionals joined the Relations with the U.S. Department of Education Seminar
Featured seminar speakers included Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs Michelle Asha Cooper. TRIO met with more than 400 Congressional offices during virtual Hill Day. TRIO alum shared stories and urged members of Congress and their staff to double Pell Grants and double TRIO.
TRIO leadership, alumni and students are asking Congress to increase TRIO by at least 20 percent to serve 1 million students. The 20 percent increase would be a down payment to double TRIO in five years. More than 60 representatives and a dozen senators have already signed on to support TRIO.
Anecia Larsen: TRIO United for a New Era • Q & A
What was your role at the Policy Seminar?
I was the alum who talked about how TRIO SSS helped me during my time at Inver Hills.
What were the topics of your three 5-minute speeches?
The most important topic for me was highlighting that if it weren’t for TRIO and the amazing help they gave me—like the different skills I learned, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. I would be at home working a boring job and not pursuing something that I love.
What was the most encouraging message you took away from the Policy Seminar?
The most encouraging message I took was that TRIO doesn’t just help students, but the different advisors, directors and everyone have the same passion as I have to keep TRIO alive.
I didn’t know how big TRIO was before the seminar, and now I know that TRIO is really special—and that Representative Angie Craig from Congressional District 2 believes that I can finish the rest of the semester strong!
The overall experience was so amazing! I love talking about my TRIO SSS experience. I’m very privileged and lucky to have SSS as my lifelong support. I cannot wait for next year’s Policy Seminar. I have high hopes that it’ll take place in Washington, D.C, this time.
Alicia Atwater: TRIO SSS Advisor perspective…
Anecia is a powerful, impactful and thoughtful woman who began as my student and has become my friend. She has continued to have an exceptional presence in our TRIO program three years after her IHCC graduation because she embodies how #TRIOWORKS!
When I heard students from our district should apply to a competitive selection process for a national policy, my mind immediately went to Anecia. She spent two days meeting with leaders from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to tell her story, especially the impact TRIO has had on her life.
I am truly honored to have Anecia as one of our alum and to have won the honor to represent Inver Hills’ TRIO program, as well as other Congressioal District 2 programs, at a national level.
TRIO Student Support Services Advisor
Inver Hills Community College
More about Anecia…
Originally from South St. Paul, Minnesota, Anecia graduated from Simley High School, Class of 2016. Her mom, Rachel, works at the Dollar Tree in Inver Grove Heights, but before the pandemic she worked at a mom-and-pop dry cleaning shop for 22 years. Anecia has one sister, Julianna, 21, who works as a shift manager at A&W, also in Inver Grove Heights.
In her free time, Anecia loves to cook and bake. “I go on Pinterest and see what I can make in my apartment,” she said. “I also love to hangout with my friends. We usually play Uno (which I never win), and we just have a good time. And then the classic response: I love to read and write. As a writer, I try to write whenever because it helps me get better as a writer.”
Anecia resides in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Anecia life gallery
Anecia Larsen • Q & A
How did your experience in TRIO SSS help you succeed at Inver Hills?
It made me believe that I had a strong future once I graduated from Inver. Before joining SSS, I always knew that I wanted to be an author, but I didn’t have the proper steps or support to get there.
And the advisors, Matt [Kruger] and Alicia [Atwater], are amazing. If you ever went to the SSS office and needed someone to talk to, they were always there. Matt helped me with so many different things, and then Alicia (my advisor) helped with my class schedule, getting my first work-study job and ultimately time management.
The advisors and student mentors are like your own set of cheerleaders cheering from a distance. And that cheering made me be successful at Inver.
What advice would you give students thinking about joining TRIO SSS?
If you are thinking about joining TRIO SSS and you qualify for it, just do it. I promise that it will change your life for the better. That is super-cheesy and everything, but if it weren’t for TRIO, I wouldn’t be where I’m at in my life now—a 23-year-old woman with two degrees, two internships, a steady job and scholarly achievements underneath my name. And if you join TRIO SSS, you will make great friends like I did (and I still talk and hangout with these friends).
What type of writing interests you the most and why?
I really love any work that has to deal with a feminist perspective because it’s the type of writing that I want to pursue. But I also love writing that has a strong voice to it. An example of that is Joan Didion; her work is amazing, and I love her style/voice.
I’m also interested in writing that comes from a different cultural experience, like Jamaican or African. I studied abroad in Jamaica in January 2020, an experience I loved—let’s just say I didn’t want to come back to the cold Minnesota weather. Spending time in Jamaica really opened my eyes to different cultural beliefs and traditions that I never learned before.
Three words that describe you as a writer:
CLASSIC. UNIQUE. STRONG.
What do you like best about studying creative writing
The people who study creative writing are a bunch of weird people, but it is a type of weird that we all appreciate. Here at UWEC the people in the creative writing field are an amazing group of people that I’ve known for three years. And within the creative writing field, I always learn something new each day. It’s refreshing to me.
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
The greatest strength that I have is that I bring my own experiences as a Hispanic and Indigenous woman into what I write. I want people to know about the different things I go through and what my ancestors have gone through. I also bring in my feminist perspective. It’s hard to find a good feminist book, and I bring that to the table when I write.
Who is your favorite writer and why?
Joan Didion. I first read her work when I was a junior in college, and the way she uses her voice for her different characters is mesmerizing. She brings realness to the pages, and I love that about her.
What person has influenced you the most in life and why?
My mom. She gave up everything for my sister and me, so I really want to make her happy by doing things that she likes and loves. She deserves the entire world because she raised me and my sister by herself while working a full-time job. I want to make really good books and once that happens, I can finally give her the gifts she deserves.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I see myself living in Minnesota with my family and me writing books that are crazy good. And eventually I would love to travel the world and to see things from a new perspective.
One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:
Anecia Larsen • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Running. I love a good 6-mile run.
- Place you would most like to visit: Spain
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: When I studied abroad in Jamaica, I jumped off a cliff in Negril.
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) I would buy house 2) Pay off my college debt 3) Put the rest into my savings account for a rainy day
- Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Wentworth
- Best movie you’ve seen lately: The Conjuring
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Having a book of mine become a movie.
- Your national bird if you were your own country: Peacock
- Dream occupation: Author
- Person you would most like to meet: Kamala Harris
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Sounds silly, but braiding my own hair. Every time I want my hair braided, I have to ask my sister to braid my hair. It’s the worst.
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Systematic racism
Learn more about TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills by contacting:
TRIO Student Support Services Director
Travelers EDGE Director
TRIO Student Support Services Advisor
TRIO Student Support Services and EDGE Academic Advisor
Inver Hills Community College
Learn more about earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.), the #1 transfer degree at Inver Hills, by contacting:
¹ SOURCE: Council for Opportunity in Education (COE)