Erica McFarlandMcNair Scholar Enhances the Wellness of Others at UTSA and in San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) McNair Scholar, Erica McFarland, is deeply devoted to improving the health and holistic wellbeing 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 TTjob-shadowing nurses at Saint Luke’s Hospital and gained experience in clinical teaching during her senior year. In order to continue growing in the field, she decided to study biology at UTSA, ultimately switching to public health with a concentration in health promotion and behavioral science in the College for Health, Community and Policy.
Erica had her sights set on UTSA from the time she was in elementary school, after her older sister made a visit to tour the university. At the young age of nine, Erica was already impressed with the school’s diversity and location. Of the twelve colleges she received acceptance letters from nearly nine years later, UTSA remained her top choice and 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. 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,” expressed Erica
With an altruistic spirit and great appreciation for motivational environments, Erica dedicates the majority of her time outside the classroom to volunteering and taking part in leadership roles that augment her college experience. She is a Senior Senator in the Student Government Association, the 2021-2022 UTSA Spirit of the Roadrunner, and a member of the President’s Student Advisory Council, Honors Alliance, Volunteer Organization Involving Community, Education and Service (VOICES), and she even served as a Calm Counselor for children with special needs at the Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP), to name just a few of her service roles.
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.
Her contributions to the betterment of others led her to receive several awards and scholarships. She was the first recipient of the Jane Findling Award, given to students who show excellence in leadership and service and 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, she 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. 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,” said Erica.
Erica expressed that her experiences at UTSA have 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 still discovering what professional path she will take after graduating, Erica knows that she will continue helping others become their very best selves.