Posted on October 11, 2022 by Amanda Cerreto

This article originally appeared in UTSA Today by Jordan Allen.

Erica McFarland OCTOBER 7, 2022 — UTSA McNair Scholar Erica McFarland is deeply devoted to improving the health and holistic well-being of others. Her interest in wellness was sparked during her time at the Hightower High School Medical Science Academy in Missouri City, Texas, where she enjoyed shadowing nurses at Saint Luke's Hospital and gained experience in clinical teaching during her senior year.

To continue growing in the field, she decided to study biology at UTSA. Then she switched to public health with a concentration in health promotion and behavioral science in the College for Health, Community and Policy.

McFarland had her sights set on UTSA from the time she was in elementary school, after her older sister toured the university. At the young age of nine, she was already impressed with the school's diversity and location. Of the 12 colleges she received acceptance letters from nearly nine years later, UTSA remained her top choice. She was thrilled to finally have the chance to attend her dream school.

"UTSA is incredibly diverse and welcoming, and that is something I was really looking for in my higher education journey."

"UTSA is incredibly diverse and welcoming, and that is something I was really looking for in my higher education journey. I live right outside of Houston and I wanted to attend a school in a major city that has access to resources and more opportunities for growth," McFarland said.

With an altruistic spirit and great appreciation for motivational environments, McFarland dedicates the majority of her time outside the classroom to volunteering and serving in leadership roles that augment her college experience.

The 2021-2022 UTSA Spirit of the Roadrunner recipient is a Senior Senator in the Student Government Association and a member of the President's Student Advisory Council, the Honors Alliance, and the Volunteer Organization Involving Community, Education and Service (VOICES).

She served as a Calm Counselor for children with special needs at the Children's Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) and also gained clinical teaching practice during her freshman year at UTSA in the UTEACH program.

As a result of McFarland's contributions, she has received several awards and scholarships. She won the first Jane Findling Award, given to UTSA students who show excellence in leadership and service, and she was accepted into the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, a federal program funded by the U.S. Department of Education TRIO grant.

The McNair Scholars program supports first-generation and low-income students in their pursuit of research-based graduate studies. Through this program, McFarland won an additional internship scholarship with UTSA's Najim Center for Innovation and Career Advancement.

“Scholarships in the UTSA community are so incredibly important as they provide us with essential support, not just financially, but also emotionally and mentally,” McFarland said. “With the support I've been given, I have been able to conduct extensive research on personal development and growth for the past three years and have seen an exceptional improvement in my own mental health and well-being.”

McFarland's experiences at UTSA helped her realize her potential. With lessened financial pressure, she has been given the space to understand her likes, dislikes, interests and passions. Her ability to participate in extracurricular activities is helping her grow as an individual and narrow down exactly what she wants out of life. While McFarland's still in the process of developing her professional path, she knows that she will continue helping others become their very best selves.

— Amanda Cerreto