UHD Biology Student Receives Wells Fargo Scholarship for Community Impact
By Sam Byrd
University of Houston-Downtown biology student Mona Farley was recently awarded a Wells Fargo Student Impact Scholarship. She is the first student at UHD to receive this recognition, and she belongs to a select group of recipients from more than 19,000 applicants.
“I am grateful to God to have been awarded this scholarship. Words cannot express how happy and grateful I am. This scholarship will alleviate my financial struggles and help me focus on my academics,” she said.
The scholarship was specifically aimed at students who have been affected by the pandemic. To qualify, Farley had to detail her college plans as well as the actions she has taken to empower, uplift and impact her community. After finding out about the scholarship opportunity through UHD’s Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning, she was in no short supply of examples to draw from. The budding volunteer spends her free time helping nonprofits throughout the city.
In her application essay, she wrote about starting a position at Legacy Community Health as AmeriCorps’ Community Health Advocate, working with underserved and at-risk populations in Greater Houston. When COVID-19 intensified the need for her services, she assisted in organizing food distribution events and worked with organizations like the Houston Food Bank, American Heart Association, the Center for Urban Transformation, and the Fifth Ward Community Center. Additionally, she managed more than 100 patients, connecting them to community resources for food, transportation, housing and financial support.
“I feel the need to help out whenever I can. That’s a passion I have. Whenever I have the time, I want to invest in making things better,” she said.
The scholarship will help the senior to finish her final school year as she is starting to make plans for graduate school to further her studies in a health-related field, a decision heavily influenced by her family’s experience. Her mother, brother and uncle have all experienced life-challenging struggles with illnesses. She is contemplating pursuing a master’s degree in either biomedical science or public health.
“It drives me to want to help families with illnesses they don’t understand. I want to bring light and hope in that way,” she said.
An added benefit of the Student Impact Scholarship is that recipients are paired with a Wells Fargo mentor. Mentors can support in expanding professional skills like networking, resume writing and interviewing and providing new ideas as students explore career options and navigate the work environment.
“I’m looking forward to networking. As a first-generation college student, it can be very demanding to both go to school and work. This mentorship will help me because I can learn from people who have been there before me,” she said.