News icon Mitchell Scholar Holland ’16 Receives MEEOA’s Rising Star Award

Larissa Holland, the 2016 Mitchell Scholar from Washington Academy and 2020 Smith College graduate, received the Rising Star 2024 award from the Maine Educational Opportunity Association (MEEOA) in early January. The MEEOA Rising Star Award is presented to emerging professionals who are former participants of Maine’s educational opportunity programs, people just beginning to make an impact in their careers and communities, and emerging leaders who strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment.

Holland, shown at left with Mitchell Institute Board member Elyse Pratt-Ronco the day she received the award, was cited for being “an invaluable member of the Upward Bound program at Bowdoin College since 2013, participating in UB summer sessions in high school, working as UB summer staff, and now as the guardian of her younger sibling who is a current student in the program.”

The MEEOA citation noted that at Smith, Holland “navigated her first-gen experience with aplomb and excelled academically. In 2019, she was one of just 55 students in the US to receive the prestigious Udall Scholarship, recognizing scholarship, leadership, and a commitment to a career in the environmental field. She also earned an equally prestigious internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).”

Holland and her younger brother recently moved to the town of Bath, Maine, where she works as an aviation sustainability consultant for C&S Companies and serves as the Development Advisor for JustME for JustUS, an organization that works to empower and mobilize youth in rural Maine around climate justice and civic engagement. This past October, she was nominated and appointed to GrowSmart Maine’s board of directors, a term she began in 2024.

“TRIO program professionals and alumni continue to be the most inspiring, motivated, creative, and dedicated individuals I have ever met, and to be nominated by such a significant mentor of mine and to be selected by the alumni committee as this year’s Rising Star is truly an incredible honor,” Holland said. “I am a direct reflection of the communities and individual people who have raised me. This award and my success to date is a testament to the immeasurable impact of Upward Bound, the support of all my teachers and mentors, the investment of each scholarship network I am a part of, and, of course, the love and nourishment from my friends and my family.”

Presented annually by the MEEOA, the Rising Star award recognizes people who have participated in an educational opportunity program that has significantly impacted their ability to achieve educational or professional objectives. They excel in their chosen field, devote time and energy to their community in a meaningful way, and serve as a role model for others. Rising Stars demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their profession, and engage in or are developing leadership roles in civic, community, or professional development activities.

Learn more about Holland’s “beautiful and busy” undergraduate experience in this Smith College profile.