Former student leaves legacy


Sofia Guevara, Feature Editor

“Everybody said the same thing,” English teacher Marcia Simmons said. “That this was a child who made you feel good about yourself, who was so special, who had that great smile waiting for you.”

The morning after Christmas, 2012 CRHS graduate Chelsea Jean Larsen, age 20, died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident as she returned to Waco from Katy. She was attending college there and working at a credit union, and had enjoyed time with her family on Christmas day before leaving that morning to report back to work in Waco. The fatality accident occurred on TX Hwy 6 between Bryan and Hearn. Her memorial celebration was held Dec. 31 at Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church. 

Larsen moved to Cinco Ranch from her home town, Winfield, KS, in 2001 a year after the loss of her mother, Marcia Larsen, to cancer. Larsen attended West Memorial and Fielder elementaries, then Cinco Ranch Junior High where she met her closest friends: Hayley Hunt, Sonia Shah, Chelsea Bivens and Mary Ann Shipp.

“I believe that she was a woman who lived a life that impacted everyone around her,” Shah said. “There are so many stories from different people who saw her compassion and love. Even people who knew her from a distance were deeply impacted by her life and the way she lived it.”

During her high school career, Larsen was President of the American Sign Language Honor Society and Club. In addition, she won the ASL LOTE award three years in a row.

“She helped make it a success by keeping me focused on planning and carrying out events,” ASL teacher Audrey Reyna said. “She also made sure to encourage ASL students to join [the club] and then made them feel included and important.”

Larsen advocated for many different causes. Among them were support for breast cancer awareness, those suffering from depression and help for victims of human trafficking and African genocide.

“She stood for so much, but one thing she always stood for was a hope to someday end the pain and suffering of others,” Bivens said. “And with that hope she loved people. She listened, sympathized and helped people face the trials in their lives.”

Larsen’s gift was her ability to connect with people. She used her trials and circumstances to reach out to others and help them with their struggles.

“She had so much more empathy than most people that age have,” Simmons said. “I had her as a sophomore and she had so much compassion for everyone. When she seemed to be going through difficult times, she would brighten up your day and you kind of forgot that she was having problems. It always became about you.”

Her gift to connect stemmed from her ability to make people feel valued. Friends believe this was due to the fact that Larsen put genuine effort into actually knowing people and remembering their names and stories. 2010 CRHS graduate Audrey Brimberry, a college roommate of Larsen’s, agreed that Larsen valued all relationships.

“Every conversation with her was an event; all of her excitement and passion spilled out as she spoke until you felt it too,” Brimberry said. “She never feigned interest in people’s lives. If she asked how your day was, she wanted the whole story; and if she said she wanted to spend time with you, she meant it.”

Larsen’s friends said that in her effort to spread the hope of her faith, she lived according to her favorite bible verse Psalm 118:24; “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” She knew the value of human life because of her faith in Christ as the giver of life and wanted every person to come to know the goodness of her faith. Further, the loss of her mother and her upbringing in a Christian home impacted the way she experienced life on a daily basis.

“She knew that no matter what was going on, no matter how she felt, that God was good,” Shah said. “She knew that He always had a plan, in every situation, and she trusted that He wanted only good things for her.”

Though she was spiritual, she lived her faith instead of wearing it on her sleeve and advocated for social justice for all people.

“It was never off-putting and she truly seemed to understand what it meant to live that way and what it meant to be a spiritual person,” Simmons said. “It made everybody comfortable, it never made anybody of any faith be uncomfortable around her.”

Overall, ­her friends said Larsen loved others unconditionally and was able to impact others. They said she exemplified Christ’s love and led young women, including Bivens and Shah, to embrace Christianity.

“It didn’t matter what walk of life you came from or if everyone else had already written you off as some stereotype, she wanted to know your story and love on you for the person you were,” Bivens said. “And she gave hope, through the way she carried herself through her trials and the way she used her circumstances to help those around her.”

Larsen lives on in the hearts of the people she had an impact on during her life.

“She lived a full life and didn’t take anything for granted,” Bivens said. “She accomplished more in her 20 years of life than most can accomplish in 80 years. And she left her mark, in more ways than one. Whether it’s the little notes she left for everyone, the hope and smiles she gave to all those she came in contact with, or the way she changed and shaped the hearts of those who loved her, her mark is here.”