School: Wichita State University
What she does now: marketing, strategic branding consultant, and photographer
What that means: She helps people craft the best narratives possible.
What she's passionate about: Accessibility
Contact her about: Teaching Design Thinking classes, navigating higher education systems, starting university innovation and entrepreneurship clubs, unconferences, hosting design competitions, I&E curriculum, and communication-related items like social media marketing.
LaRissa Lawrie has a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communication and a Master of Arts in Communication from Wichita State University. She was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. She is currently working on a Ph.D. in Journalism from the University of Missouri.
Her background is in technical communication and working with engineers to create technical white papers. In graduate school, she worked as a freelance journalist, strategic branding consultant, and public speaking instructor. LaRissa is a past President of Lambda Pi Eta at Wichita State University, a national communication honor society. She also was awarded a journalism fellowship with Salon Media Group. LaRissa is very active in community building and entrepreneurship. She was a Venture for America Fellow and now regularly volunteers as a Venture for America Alumni. She is also a past member of the Wichita Professional Communicators and the National Federation of Press Women.
Some highlights of her UIF work include:
- Helping found Shocker Startup (Wichita State’s first innovation and entrepreneurship student organization) and in the past served as Vice President. Shocker Startup has organized multiple large speaking events at Wichita State, hosted pitch competitions, created an alumni network of mentors to support student entrepreneurs, and given away grant money to interdisciplinary student teams to fund prototypes.
- Giving pop-up classes and guest lectures on design-thinking, rapid prototyping, and creative confidence skills. This has served as a way to involve non-technical students in the innovation ecosystem and get them involved. LaRissa has helped facilitate design thinking activities at the November Silicon Valley Meetup in 2017 and several academic conferences. LaRissa has taught thousands of people lessons on design thinking, creativity confidence, and empathy.
- LaRissa and Hannah Hund participated in an Aggies Invent design competition at Texas A&M during the summer of 2016. Their team took third place. Both LaRissa and Hannah decided to work to bring that style of design competition to Wichita State. In 2017, They helped organize “Mars or Bust” – a 24/hour design competition around space sustainability at Wichita State. In 2018, they helped bring “Invent for the Planet” to Wichita State, a global design competition in coordination with Texas A&M that tackled the society's biggest challenges including environmental/climate affairs, sustainability, energy solutions, social issues, improving developing nations and resource equity. LaRissa learned about University Innovation Fellows when she co-founded Shocker Startup with Wesley Alexis and Hannah Hund. UIF has given her the opportunity to explore how innovation and entrepreneurship can empower students. LaRissa’s passion is at the intersection of communication and technology.
University Innovation Fellows