Among her work with Social Justice Week, Women’s Leadership Symposium and IMPACT Leadership Retreat, Mikayla Farr has become a well-known face around campus. Besides working for the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, Farr has also worked on public health research projects as an undergraduate and will begin her Master of Public Health at Emory University in her hometown Atlanta, Georgia in the fall.
TMH: Before coming to UM from high school, how did you think you would fit in at this school? Specifically, did expect that you would be an engaged student leader?
Farr: Before coming to UM, I definitely did not envision myself becoming an engaged student leader. I also had no idea how I would fit in at the school, which is something that I struggled with a lot my freshman year. I was having trouble finding my “home” on campus, and I really wanted to find my place at UM. So, I got involved with the Butler Center and that place instantly became my home. I served on the Social Justice Week planning committee my freshman year and really bonded with the upperclassmen committee members, who all worked in the Butler Center. I definitely did not expect to be in their positions (working in the Butler Center as a Social Justice Week co-chair and chair of the Women’s Leadership Symposium) that next year. Now looking back, I can’t imagine my college experience without being a part of the Butler Center family.
TMH: What are the issues that you are most passionate about? How do you think you might have shown those passions through what you’ve done during your time at UM?
F: I am most passionate about health disparities within minority communities. My college experiences have really exposed me to issues of injustice in the United States and across the globe. I was really able to reflect my passions through the planning of Social Justice Week and the Women’s Leadership Symposium. The Butler Center also has so many other organizations and programs that have a focus on social justice, like Tunnel of Oppression, and the many service days where we get to help a community in need, and it’s been really great to be a part of those experiences each year. As a public health major, I really was able to capitalize on the numerous opportunities through the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Last summer, I was selected to participate in the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program (MHIRT) where I traveled to Alicante, Spain and worked on a university-wide health promotion campaign, which I am now implementing for my public-health practicum at UM. MHIRT was an amazing experience that solidified my passion for public health and how I want to tackle health inequities in communities of color. I am super grateful for all of the opportunities UM has given me to really deepen my passions.
TMH: What are you looking forward to the most about grad school in Atlanta?
F: I’m really excited to go to grad school in my hometown and be closer to my family. Atlanta is an amazing city, so I’m excited to experience it as a young adult. Although I grew up in Atlanta, I think that being older I’ll really be able to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. I’m also really excited to be going to a school that has connections with so many great public-health agencies. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is literally across the street from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory, which is so cool.
TMH: What is something that you are proud of having done during your time at UM?
F: I’m really proud of myself for finding who I am, what I care about and who I want to be. At UM I’ve experienced so much personal growth, and I think because of that growth I was really able to excel as a student leader.
TMH: If you could recommend just one UM experience (program, leadership opportunity, student org, being an R.A., sport, class, sporting events, homecoming/spring carnival, etc., off-campus activity) to incoming freshmen, what would it be and why?
F: Hands down, I would recommend the IMPACT Leadership Retreat. IMPACT is an absolutely amazing experience and really jumpstarted a lot of the personal growth I experienced throughout my college career. I never stopped learning from IMPACT, even as an upperclassman. My journey as an IMPACT participant, facilitator and coordinator was filled with self-discovery, and developing my identity. It’s a great way for freshmen to explore new ideas, meet new people and really find out what they want their purpose to be at UM.