Erica McFarland and Lance Tran named Spirit of the Roadrunner recipients

‘My optimism and positivity allow me to seize my moments’

Bella Nieto, News Editor

At the UTSA homecoming game, where the ‘Runners prevailed against Rice in a 45-0 victory, Erica McFarland and Lance Tran were named Spirit of the Roadrunner recipients. 

Tran, a junior actuarial science major, has been a College of Business senator in Student Government and has been a part of  the Society of Physics Students, the Vietnamese Student Association and the UTSA Ambassadors. Tran’s platforms focus on relaunching cultural events that were postponed due to the pandemic. 

McFarland, from Missouri City, is a junior and public health major. Aside from being a senator in Student Government she has participated in Women of Honor, the Black Student Union, the African Students Association, My Sister’s Keeper and the Green Society. Her platform centers on amplifying wellness at UTSA. 

Formerly known as Mr. and Ms. UTSA, the program acknowledges students who ‘embody the spirit of UTSA while striving for the highest levels of academic achievement, campus involvement and community service. The application includes short answer questions concerning: campus involvement, community service, a resume, a letter of recommendation, awards, etc. In the handbook, there is an outline of dates for an interview process and a presentation in front of a panel of judges. Applicants are reviewed and chosen by the UTSA Office of Student Activities and the UTSA Homecoming Committee. 

McFarland explained how she decided to nominate herself for the award saying that she was hesitant at first, but after a while became really confident about her chances.

Photo courtesy of Erica McFarland

I check RowdyLink often so I noticed this program on the website, but I did not gain the courage to apply until I heard about this program at a Student Government meeting,” McFarland said. McFarland remembered one of the advisors mentioning the deadline for the program. She then spent the next day filling out the application for five hours and submitted it with twenty minutes to spare. 

“I received a call about two hours later notifying me that my application was received,” McFarland said. “They actually extended the deadline after I submitted my application to encourage others to apply. I was very hopeful and confident about the future when I received the phone call!”

After the panel of judges reviews applications, finalists are contacted and the campaign can officially begin. McFarland found out she was a finalist over a Zoom call with the director and assistant director of the program. Since the Spirit of the Roadrunner was renamed to be more gender inclusive, the top two candidates, regardless of gender, would be recipients. McFarland explained that even though there were only three finalists, it motivated her campaign and further ignited her desire to be a recipient of the award. 

“I felt like I already had about a 66% chance of becoming a UTSA Spirit of the Roadrunner recipient because two out of the three finalists were going to be automatically recognized,” McFarland said. “This acted as motivation because I understood that if I put in an effort my chances of actually becoming a recipient would significantly increase. I felt like the liveliness rooted in me, comparable to a childlike hunger, would come out as drive, diligence, perseverance and execution.”

McFarland went on to explain her campaign tactics starting with her poster approval from Student Activities. Throughout her campaign McFarland estimated she printed 1,840 flyers with QR codes that led students to the voting page.

 “I went out of my way to speak to the football team and the girl’s basketball team. I contacted multiple school organizations and I asked to be promoted there,” McFarland said. 

Voting was open on RowdyLink during homecoming week; McFarland chronicled those two days of heavy campaigning. 

“I roamed Main Campus all day. I focused on the hotspots on campus and visited multiple departments and buildings at varying times on Tuesday and Wednesday,” McFarland said. “I woke up at 7:00 a.m. and finished passing out flyers by 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday. On Wednesday I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and directly messaged people on GroupMe and social media for hours. Students were very supportive and shared my digital flyer with their friends and on their social media accounts. I had to work from 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. as well. After 3:00 p.m. I picked up my new 400 mini flyers and I passed them out to try to get people to vote for me on campus because this was the last day of voting. In the end, I had one flyer left. I decided to keep this flyer for memories.”

McFarland said she felt honored to be recognized as an outstanding student. She also went on to explain exactly what the award meant and why she believes that she will succeed in the role. 

“I believe I am motivational, inspirational, influential and powerful,” McFardland said. “I say this because I possess a lot of energy and I have the power to influence. I aspire to inspire before I expire. I am a natural influencer and my heart is set on continuously making a difference globally while specifically impacting people in a powerful, influential manner. This is an opportunity of a lifetime to fulfill one of my purposes in life because I love helping people. Others are able to feel my presence in tangible and intangible manners. I love providing a means for student expression and assistance in school affairs. My optimism and positivity allow me to seize my moments and take advantage of opportunities that can lead me to better opportunities.”

Each candidate runs on a platform that is meant to benefit the UTSA community. McFarland’s was focused on prioritizing wellness on campus. She describes eight dimensions of wellness: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, social, occupational, financial and environmental. She further explained why she chose this as her initiative for the year. 

“Mastering wellness maximizes the human experience,” McFarland said. “My goal is to effectively and efficiently educate Roadrunners on this matter and enhance their ability to take control of their life for the betterment of well-being through UTSA services. I thoroughly enjoy the experience of witnessing my growth before my own eyes. I have done extensive research on personal development and growth for the past year. I have seen exceptional improvement in my mental health and well-being as a whole. For this reason, I would love for others to understand that they have agency over their life and accept that they are the co-creator of their life.

During her time in the role, McFarland hopes the experience will enhance her development as a woman and as a leader

“I thoroughly enjoy providing a means for student expression and assistance in school affairs,” McFarland said. “Through activities, many opportunities present themselves. These opportunities can result in successful, memorable student experiences in leadership. As a result, the encouragement of students is enhanced personally, academically and professionally. Therefore, the overall well-being of UTSA increases.”

In a parting message to students, McFarland emphasized the importance of kindness.

“I want people to know good things come to people who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them,” McFarland said. “I encourage others to gain a better understanding of unconditional love. Kindness is unconditional love because the happiness of another person would be essential to your own.”

In addition, the Spirit of the Roadrunner recipient noted how powerful confidence can be when it comes to achieving your goals.  

“I want people to understand that they are braver than they think, more talented than they know, and capable of more than they can imagine,” McFarland said. “Confidence is when you believe in yourself and your abilities. Each day is a new opportunity to improve yourself. I encourage people to take opportunities and make the most of them. Even the things you cannot change can be embraced and turned into opportunities. I encourage students to invest time in themselves to enjoy experiences that will enrich them. It is never too late to become who you want to be. I hope each student lives a life that they are proud of, and if they find that they are not, I hope they have the strength to start over because today’s moments are just tomorrow’s memories. Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”