Scholarship Series

Path to Success: Erica Hutchens

photo of Erica HutchensYour gifts helped keep students like Erica Hutchens ’18 on the path to success.

Originally from Tuscaloosa, Erica was homeschooled throughout high school. In her search for a college that was affordable and offered the rigorous academic experience she desired, Erica heard about the University of Montevallo from an advisor and has been in love with UM since her first visit.

“I chose Montevallo because of the small class sizes, personal attention and opportunities to be involved. My biggest obstacle was making the transition from homeschooling to being part of a traditional classroom, and the care and concern I received from the faculty and staff helped me do that successfully,” she said.

Erica is majoring in biology at UM and has recently taken on the role of president of the UM Pre-Health Professional Society. The society provides UM students with the opportunity to enhance their pre-health professional undergraduate careers. In addition to her time spent in class and labs, she is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, National Society of Leadership and Success, Golden Key Honor Society, Psychology Club and the recipient of the Freshman Honors Award. Her outstanding academic achievements have put her on the President’s list or Dean’s list every semester since she enrolled. Erica plans to graduate in the fall of 2018 and pursue a career as a physician’s assistant in underserved communities.

The word “family” has a special meaning for Erica when she considers her Montevallo experience. Her sister also attends the University and is pursuing a science major. They have been able to take the same classes and become even closer through studying together, commuting together and, as she explains “hunting for parking spots together.” She describes her relationship with other commuters as a part of her Montevallo family experience, “We eat together and we study together. It’s a really tight-knit group and support system.”

She points to the guidance, mentorship and care of faculty and staff. One faculty advisor that has made an impact on her success is Dr. Brett Noerager, associate professor of biology. “Dr. Noerager has helped me figure out my path to achieving my dreams,” she said. She also credits Kim Moon from UM Health Services as an influential mentor who has introduced her to the medical field and provided networking opportunities.

In Erica’s time at UM, she has grown through her experiences, triumphs and support. When asked what she has learned about herself since starting college, Erica said, “I’m stronger than I thought I was.”

She was initially worried about what college life would bring because of her homeschool background. “I have grown to love college, and here at Montevallo I’m not just a number, but a distinct member of a unique family. I have the ability to build relationships with other students, faculty and staff and the greater community,” she said.

Erica has great appreciation for alumni. “I’m so grateful for those who came before me, setting the path and laying the foundation for me to succeed. Thanks to alumni scholarships, I’ve been able to focus on my studies rather than financial need, and I have access to free GRE and MCAT test resources because of alumni donations. I hope to be an alumna who gives back after I graduate, so that future falcons can take advantage of the many opportunities Montevallo offers,” she explained.