Larissa Chavarria ’23 is the 2020–2021 recipient of the “Realizing the Dream” scholarship at Valparaiso University.

The “Realizing the Dream” annual award recognizes outstanding academic success by awarding a $3,000 scholarship to a first-generation sophomore student who excelled during their freshman year. Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., this award honors one student at each of the 30 member institutions of the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI), a nonprofit association that works for excellence and choice in higher education for all students.

Chavarria is a psychology and criminology double major from Valparaiso, Indiana. She is a member of the Kappa Delta Sorority and is involved in the University Programming Council, College Mentors for Kids, and the coeducational service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega.

“The aspect I love most about Valpo is the atmosphere,” Chavarria said. “Valpo has a lot of opportunities to get involved. I think within every club or organization there is a higher level of autonomy. I’ve been able to plan events personally without a lot of supervision, which is a great practical experience for the real world.”

Chavarria attributes her early college success to the dedication of her professors. She was especially impacted by Salena Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor of English, with whom she took one of her Valpo Core writing classes.

“Professor Anderson made me excited for the class, even if it wasn’t in my major,” Chavarria said. “She helped me talk through my writing process and made the paper writing process enjoyable.”

Anderson recognizes students of promise like Chavarria, highlighting the connection that Valpo students have with their professors. Valpo faculty are dedicated to student success and provide their students resources so they may become their best selves.

“I cannot imagine a more worthy recipient of the Realizing the Dream scholarship than Larissa,” Anderson said. “One thing that struck me about Larissa was her investment not only in her own learning but also in her peers’ learning. Larissa, herself an exceptional writer, provided her peers some of the most detailed and insightful peer reviews, helping everyone to grow.”

In lieu of the annual awards banquet, Chavarria and the other 29 scholarship recipients recorded videos of themselves answering questions about how their scholarships are helping them succeed.