Sarah Fincher, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in Social Work this May from Southern Arkansas University, has been named the 2021 Outstanding Student for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department and accepted into the Texas Tech University Health Science Center Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. Fincher credits her success to her experience as a Mulerider.
“I started out having great relationships with my professors and other faculty and staff at SAU,” said the Atlanta, Texas, native. “They are the reason SAU feels like home.”
Fincher has also been chosen to deliver a poster presentation at the Southwestern Psychological Association Convention, April 9-11, in San Antonio. Due to COVID, Fincher recorded the presentation and submitted the video for attendees to watch virtually. “I feel honored the research I worked on so hard is being presented, and others will be able to benefit from it,” she said.
While a student at Atlanta High School, Fincher started looking at college options, knowing that she eventually wanted to attend graduate school for occupational therapy. “I decided on social work as my undergraduate degree and started looking into programs. When I was accepted into SAU, I decided I would audition for the band as well. I was offered a band scholarship and the Leadership Incentive Award Scholarship.”
Once she was offered a band scholarship and the Leadership Incentive Award Scholarship, she toured SAU and decided it would become her college home. “I felt very welcomed by everyone, and I made my decision that day.”
Among the professors who encouraged and influenced Fincher on her path, Dr. Deborah Wilson, chair of Behavioral and Social Sciences, “has definitely been my cheerleader,” said Fincher. “She saw the potential in me before I could even see it. She encouraged me to submit my research for a conference presentation. If not for her, I would never have done that.”
She has been able to count on Dr. Wilson for valuable guidance and assistance. “I’m thankful to have had her as a professor; she is most definitely someone I look up to,” Fincher said.
“For all of our students, I hope time with us is filled with many personal and academic discoveries, growth experiences, and accomplishments,” said Wilson. “Sarah leaves SAU with a memorable Mulerider experience. I’m so glad she chose SAU, and I always wish her the absolute best.”
SAU’s faculty supported and encouraged Fincher “to not only reach my goals but go above and beyond,” she said. “They are some of the ones who have helped me reach this point, and I am so thankful for each and every one of them.”
Fincher was accepted into four of the five graduate programs to which she applied. She hopes to use her occupational therapy degree to work in an acute in-patient rehab or a setting where she can work with the geriatric population.
Her research project, “Alcohol Mixed with Energy Drinks: Are College Students Consuming Them and Why” was recorded and submitted to San Antonio. “When I was notified that my research was accepted into the conference, I did not know how to react. I was both surprised and excited. I had hoped it would be selected but had no idea whether it would be.”
Fincher is grateful to have been honored as the 2021 Outstanding Student for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department. “I appreciate it so much,” she said. “I feel blessed to have learned from, and get to know, the faculty and staff in the department. They helped me get where I am today.”