‘The Lotus Files’ helps to bring acceptance to UNH alumna
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
After UNH graduate Larissa Walters lost her mother to breast cancer in 2010, she put her grief toward helping others by writing a memoir about the year that followed. “The Lotus Files,” which was published in June 2012, is a book that not only helped Walters find acceptance but has helped countless others achieve the same, as well.
Walters’ mother, Brenda Carol Walters, had been battling breast cancer on and off for nine years before passing away on March 24, 2010. A couple of months prior, in January, when her mother’s prognosis was getting worse, Walters, who graduated from UNH in 1999, turned to the Internet and created a blog where she was able to express herself.
“I would go there and cry and release my opinions,” she said.
After her mother passed, the blog then became Walters’ inspiration to write a book. She had read many books on grief, but none were as personal as she would have liked, so she decided to write her own. She wanted to help people by sharing what she had gone through.
“There was a part of me that wanted to help someone else with this experience,” she said.
The desire to help others is something that Walters got from her mother, and she said she hopes that this book will help her mother live on. Walters spoke strongly of how her mother always wanted to be remembered for helping others. She said she is happy that her book is helping her do this.
“When I get those emails or messages, it takes away the sales component, the business component, and reminds me what this is all about,” she said.
Walters also has a scholarship set up at her mother’s alma mater, Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y. The scholarship was set up in 2011, and $20, 000 must be raised by March 2014 in order for a permanent scholarship to be set in place. So far, $14,000 has been raised through donations and the money made by the book, and Walters said she is confident that it will hit the mark. The scholarship will be awarded each year to breast cancer survivors.
The book has also helped Walters personally, and she said it has been very influential in her healing process.
“I’m not sure if I’m in total acceptance, but I’m closer than before,” she said.
Walter’s state of mind relates closely with the title of the book, which was named for the lotus flower and the way that it travels up through dark water and blooms into a beautiful flower on top of the water.
As Walters looks back to how she got to where she is today, her mother is an obvious role model, but she credits a lot of her success to her time at UNH. She recieved her Bachelor of Science from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics and played a major role in many extracurricular activities. As a black student, she was a member of the Diversity Support Coalition and believed that college was a unique experience for her.
“I made the best of my situation and experience,” she said.
She also was one of the founders of Sisters in Step, a dance group that is still present at UNH. Walters also won a couple of awards and was the first recipient of the Class of 1899 award. Everything she learned at UNH, whether it was academic, cultural, or a hobby, has helped turn Walters into who she is now, fourteen years after graduation, she said.
“I’ve been able to take my experiences at UNH with me,” she said.
Walters now resides in Baltimore, Md., where she works full-time in sales as a wine and liquor distributor. She said that she is at a good place in her life right now and is looking forward to the future. She hopes to continue to heal and that others will use her book to help themselves, too.
“Unfortunately, a lot of us are going to go through this, and to know you’re not alone is a great comfort,” she said.