Motivation from a Son

Psychology student and scholarship recipient Lisa McFarland returned to school, motivated by her son’s struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Now, she is striving to help students who also struggle with ADHD.

Interview by Rachel Brumfield
Transcription by Christian Kiemele, Nelson Weller Intern

You already have a certificate in coaching young people with ADHD, and now you’re continuing your education at UM. Why psychology? What do you like about it?

Well, I love to help people. I’ve been a huge advocate of people who have disabilities; my son is a major factor in that. I have two certificates in coaching teens and college students with ADHD, and so my thought was to get on campus and be where I need to be to do that as a career.

Lisa McFarland

Tell me a little bit more about that connection with your son. What has that journey been like? How did that lead you here?

My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in third grade. He struggled through school, and I watched him suffer immensely. I was a huge advocate for him.

That led me to get ADHD coaching certificates. I learned all I could to actually help him deal with some of the things he was going through, and to try to educate the school.

You received an Osher Reentry Scholarship, which is for non-traditional students with at least a five year gap in their undergraduate education. Can you tell me why this scholarship is meaningful to you?

It’s really meaningful. When I got to Missoula three years ago, things didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. I was in a relationship that became abusive. Here I was, from New York, with no friends or family, not knowing anything about Montana.

When I got to UM, I was taking out student loans and trying to fund the whole thing myself. The scholarship took a huge burden off me financially. To know that I can go to school and not worry about money, that is amazing. It’s helped me buy books, and it’s given me the flexibility to buy things that I’ve needed. It’s tremendous.

What’s your plan for the future?

Eventually, I would like to work for the University as a student coach.  I am coaching now with Curry Wellness as a health behavior coach working toward my certification from UM.  I feel like I could be a huge asset to the University once I have my degree. Or, I’ll pursue a coaching business of my own.

How do you plan to give back in the future?

This community has been amazingly supportive of me; I think if I were anywhere else, I wouldn’t have gotten that support. I like to donate a lot of my time on campus mentoring students. If I felt like I was financially secure, I would love to donate money to students that really need help.

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