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Gracia spent a good chunk of her growing-up years in and around the community of Fergus Falls and the HLA campus in the wake of multiple generations of Hillcrest alumni. Gracia is the daughter of Bee and Rev. Paul Larson who serves as President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. She, and two siblings have graduated from Hillcrest and her younger brother is currently a senior.
After graduating from Hillcrest in 2012, Gracia went on to the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, graduating in 2016 with a degree in biology with a minor of science. Throughout her time in college, Gracia competed at the NCAA Division III level on the varsity softball team and spent the remainder of her free time involved in academic, athletic, and ministry organizations such as Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Student Athlete Mentorship Program, and Athletes in Action. It was here that she first felt the desire to use athletics as a means to share the gospel.
“Throughout my involvement with Athletes in Action I was equipped to more fully understand that my identity was rooted in Christ and not simply as a softball player and student. I gained confidence to see my sport as an opportunity to glorify God through my competitive efforts, attitude, and relationships with my teammates and coaching staff,” she says.
Now Gracia finds herself back at Hillcrest as the physical education instructor. She is passionate about physical fitness and athletics citing God’s invested Image in each person and His expectation that we honor Him in everything we do – including the care and use of our bodies. One of her favorite passages in the Bible--one she aspires to live her own life by--is found in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26. “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step.”
Gracia is excited to be a part of the Hillcrest faculty and staff, teaching and encouraging students to run well.