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Larissa "Aisa" Valera Frias

by Jeanne Baron

June 10, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Dr. Larissa Aisa Valera Frias.
Dr. Larissa "Aisa" Valera Frias, a popular Western Michigan University faculty member, died suddenly in her sleep June 5. She was 38.

Frias was an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences specializing in family studies. She joined the WMU faculty in 2008, after having begun her career in education as a guidance counselor and then an instructor at the University of the Philippines.

During her time at WMU, Frias became well-known among students, faculty and staff for her cheerfulness, positivity and commitment to learning. She regularly taught courses on culture and families, parenting, and international families.

Her research areas encompassed children's understanding of peace and war, and acculturation and family experiences of Filipino immigrants in the U.S. She presented at numerous conferences, was a faculty advisor for the student honor society Kappa Omicron Nu, and served as a member of the Great Start Collaborative Parenting Education Committee in Kalamazoo.

Frias' love of the Philippines and for children resulted in her establishing, along with her husband Arnold Frias and sister Polly Delos Santos, the iLearn foundation. Located in the Philippines, iLearn offers training for childcare professionals, developmentally appropriate assessments of children and therapy for children.

Frias earned a master's degree in psychology from the University of the Philippines and a doctoral degree in child development and family studies from Purdue University.

A memorial service is planned for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at St. Thomas More in Kalamazoo.

Memorial donations may be made to the Aisa Frias Memorial Fund to support the operations of iLearn.