Lake Tahoe Community College TRiO Specialist Anna Lee was on maternity leave when she heard about the alleged murder of Lyra Fisher. The news of her former student's death hit her hard, and she couldn't stop thinking about Fisher's orphaned 2-year-old son.
So Lee decided to establish the Lyra B. Fisher Memorial Scholarship this month to honor the woman who'd been studying for an associate degree in criminal justice before she was allegedly killed by her husband last June in the Lone Pine Lodge.
"She wanted to be able to support herself and her son more effectively. She really wanted to become a police officer to help other survivors of violence and bring justice to them," Lee said.
"I think of her smile and the spark in her eye that I saw become brighter as she attended school and persevere through her challenges academically. The budding confidence I saw in her was inspirational," she said.
Lee initially set modest goals for the scholarship. She hoped to award $250 by spring to a student dedicated to ending violence in his or her community. Applicants would have to write an essay detailing how they'd use their education to that effect.
Lee had already received $600 in donations by Dec. 10, and she now plans to give away at least $1,000 by April. To donate, visit www.ltcc.edu/foundation. The winner doesn't need to revolutionize how we approach violence, but rather begin thinking about ways to stop it and the effect it can have, Lee said.
"It's always a struggle to engage the larger community, it's something that can always be improved. But family violence affects so many people," she said.
Fisher's citizenship instructor Barbara Kurek knew enough about Fisher's abusive relationship with her husband that she feared for her former student's safety even at the college. Aaron Fisher had threatened to kill his wife as far back as 2007, according to El Dorado County Superior Court records.
"I know she'd been on the run. She'd been in the women's center on and off for a while, and she'd just started to establish herself. She was trying to get her life together. If he's just threatening, there's not much she could do. Maybe someday there will be something that can be done in situations like that. It's scary," Kurek said.
For Maeko Bradshaw, Fisher's TRiO peer mentor, the death of another LTCC student was terrifying.
"It's scary for every student because LTCC is such a small community and South Lake Tahoe is such a small community. It's scary and disturbing, and it makes you want to go out and do something about these situations. Lyra was working so hard to better her life and it makes you want to become the best student you can be," Bradshaw said.