Statistics Student Victor Feagins Transformed by UTSA Experience
If there was a blueprint for how to have the ideal college experience, Victor Feagins executed the plan perfectly. Graduating with a B.S. in Statistics and Data Science from the UTSA Carlos Alvarez College of Business, he boldly leveraged every opportunity to pursue his passions.
While a student at Brandeis High School in San Antonio he focused entirely on his courses. Because of that, Feagins vowed to get involved at college.
“When I began at UTSA I was just a normal student,” he said. “I didn’t belong to any special programs. But, I was only taking four classes, so I had a lot of free time.”
Feagins joined the Global Business Club, the Forum of Finance, the Society for Human Resource Management, the Investment Society and the American Statistical Association his freshman year.
“My brother participated in a research program when he was St. Mary’s, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” he said. “I knew I needed to build my resume to get into one of those programs, so I spent my first year focused on leadership and involvement while taking my statistics classes.”
His efforts were rewarded, and he was accepted into a summer research program that year at American University. Feagins credits his calculus professor Ronald Brashear, who passed away in 2020, with launching his research interests since he wrote the recommendation letter that got him accepted into the program. It was the first of many research experiences that he participated in during the course of his UTSA career.
“I learned a lot about personal maturity through that program,” said Feagins. “It was the first time I’d ever lived away from home. I also learned that I wanted to do more than just pure math behind a whiteboard.
Expanding on his involvement, he joined the Honors College and the Business Honors Program his sophomore year. He also started working as a peer mentor, was appointed to the President’s Student Advisory Council and became president of the student chapter of the American Statistical Association.
“Being a peer mentor was a lot of fun,” said Feagins. “I interacted with freshmen and helped them accomplish their goals. It forced me to get out of the classroom. I started meeting faculty and learning about resources to share with my mentees.”
While the pandemic was disruptive to most students, Feagins saw it as a blessing. He was taking 19 hours of classes and had overextended himself with all of his extracurricular activities. “It was a blessing in disguise,” he said. “I realized the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance.”
Feagins used this opportunity to focus on his passion for research. He completed another summer research program with the Research in Industrial Projects Program through UCLA virtually. And the summer of his junior year he participated in a bioinformatics research fellowship in an environmental lab at Boston University. “I knew I wanted to keep doing research. I became a strong programmer. It helped grow my confidence.”
Wanting to focus on research fundamentals, he joined the college’ Pre-Ph.D. pathway his junior year. Exploring the interdisciplinary nature of research, he also was a fellow with the UTSA IES Pathways program in the College of Education and Human Development. This year he became an inaugural Alvarez Research Fellow.
“I love research,” he said. “I’ve gained a research mindset. I am very grateful to my mentors Jerome Keating, Juan Manuel Sanchez, Mark Leung and Guadalupe Carmona for supporting me throughout my graduate school applications.”
Inspired by the support of his faculty mentors, Feagins applied to several Ph.D. programs. He chose the Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology studying quantitative methods at the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he received the Interdisciplinary Training Program (ITP) in Education Sciences Fellowship.
“The professors were really supportive at UW-Madison,” said Feagins, who will start in the fall. “Since I’ll be spending the next five years of my life there having that support as well as maintaining a good work/life balance was important to me. I’ll be part of the ITP fellowship working with students from a variety of disciplines.”
Relishing the interdisciplinary nature of statistics, he enjoyed the fact that UTSA’s statistics program is in the Alvarez College of Business. “I had the opportunity to work on not only my quantitative skills, but also my interpersonal skills by being part of the business school.”
Feagins capped off his journey by being named the Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the Alvarez College of Business. He credits the small steps along the way with leading him down this path.
“I’ve been completely transformed,” said Feagins. “High school Victor wouldn’t recognize me now. What I like about UTSA is the diverse students. To be a Roadrunner is to embody that diversity. We may be different, but we are racing down the same road together and we must help others along the way. Roadrunners run together.”