Distinguished Through the Decades: 1999, Elishaba (Graben) Larson

Progress 2022: Distinguished Through the Decades

As Russellville High School’s Elishaba (Graben) Larson approached graduation, she said she knew scholarships were going to be key to continuing her education. A good student and continual learner, Larson had started her early education at Belgreen before transferring to Russellville in the 10th grade. With parents who were both teachers, Larson was focused on her studies – and the draw of a full tuition scholarship to the University of North Alabama through the Junior Miss program was certainly enough to catch her eye.

“I want to do the best I can at anything I try to do,” said Larson, who is now the library media specialist, technology coordinator and technology instructional coach for Guntersville High School. That desire flows right in with the Junior Miss/DYW “be your best self” motto.

So she competed at the local level and continued on to state as the Franklin County 1999 Junior Miss.

For her talent, Larson recorded herself singing a portion of “Un bel dì,” the aria from “Madame Butterfly;” on stage at the competition, she danced en pointe on stage to her own recorded, following that up by singing the rest of the piece.

“It was an opportunity to be creative,” said Larson. “It was really cool and fun, and looking back on it, what an opportunity that was.”

Opportunity is the name of the game when it comes to Junior Miss, and Larson said she also appreciated the opportunity to meet people, network and make new friends – friends like her host family for the week in Montgomery, with whom she is still in touch.

After high school Larson earned her bachelor’s degree in entertainment management from the University of North Alabama. It was later that she decided to embrace her love for young people and return to school to get her business education degree at the University of North Alabama. Ever the scholar, Larson further pursued her master’s in business education from UNA and went back again for a master’s in library media from the University of West Alabama.

Larson’s husband Carl has a dental practice in Guntersvlle, and the couple has four children: Chase, 11, Anna, 10, Elsa, 5, and Clark, 3 – names derived from the family’s Swedish heritage. They also have a dog named Scout.

Larson said the biggest thing she took away from Junior Miss was self confidence. “I just have to be my best me. I can’t compete against somebody else,” she said. It’s something she would encourage any girl to do. “The process will help them become a better person. They will learn the skills to interview, build their confidence and help them become their best self.”

As part of her career, Larson is working on national board certification. She is a big advocate for the arts, through the Artists Responding To Students organization for Marshall County and by helping define ways classroom teachers can collaborate with teachers of the arts and incorporate the arts into their classes.

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